Alaska Statehood Pioneers: In Their Own Words

Episode 6: George Rogers

Episode transcript

George Rogers: I said I want to get an island that the things that are brought in and out are defined, that I can simple enough that I can grasp how the whole thing operates and then I got to Alaska and said… This is my island.We were building a state and it just inspired all kinds of people and all kinds of people came here.

And I think that statehood sort of lifted us from the colonial status because we had rights, we had things that we could enforce, we could control our own destiny.

So that was bringing together Alaskans that had never had a voice before. That’s what made it so remarkable.

Narrator: George and Jean Rogers came to Alaska in 1945. They built a home, raised a family and were very active community members in Juneau, where they lived.

George’s academic background and advanced degrees allowed him to work as an economist, professor and researcher. During his long career he held local public office, worked for the federal and territorial governments and started an academic institute. He was one of those who helped pen the state constitution and was a Pioneer of Alaska Statehood.

George Rogers: I was born in San Francisco in the Patrilla District. If you know San Francisco, you know what that is, in 1917
I went through the usual school system, which in those days was not the sort of thing we have. The Patrillo District was a place where new Americans came in – Irish and Italian. And my mother was Australian and my father was of Cornish descent. So I spoke with an Australian accent which they assumed was English, which gave me trouble on the playground, but I became an Italian and I survived.

The Irish bullies move around in a group, but one thing about a bully he never stands alone. And they would pick out someone like myself who was different than the others and the whole thing was that they make a circle and knock you down and kick you. And then if you fought back then they could really clean up on you, say well he hit me first. Well this time I landed and my hand fell on a rock and I stood up and swung up – his name was Glen Noland, I hit him on the left temple. And head wounds bleed and all of a sudden blood was squirting and I dropped the rock, stood there, he started crying. Everybody was horrified. The playground monitor grabbed me, walked me into the school and I had to stand in front of the class this is a vicious person stay away. Well, the next thing I knew I was put in a speech correction class. And I came in and there were just Italian boys there and I said what are we doing here. He said well you talk funny too. So we became very good friends and it was a long story. I’d go into about how the head of the Italian boys – they had the poor young woman who was the only lessons she had was for stutters. So she went through this whole thing of having us sit at desks, pull down the blinds, and we said slow speech is easy. She said now imagine you’re in some sort of situation very peaceful and you’re walking along into the woods and it is all quiet and then she said now one of you tell what is happening. And the leader of the Italian says I was walking along and the birds were singing and I walked into this river and all of a sudden there was a rustling and a tiger lept out at me. And we all started laughing and she said no, no and she burst into tears. That was the last speech correction class I was in, but I had bonded with the Italians so I could stand over with the Italian boys with my hands on my hips and say okay you Irishmen come over here we’ll take care of you. So at that point I had an escort home. I was never bothered and I also had the reputation of being a very vicious person, but I have loved Italians ever since.

At age 12 we moved out of the district into the Sunset District and unfortunately this high school was a polytechnic high school and the name tells it all. I majored in mathematics, architectural drafting, and physics. The rest of it was Mickey Mouse work or working on the lathe or in a foundry or something like that. But that gave me the basis for my future education, the math particularly. I had inspiring teachers, two of them. And I never forget Ms. Worman, who was an old lady said children mathematics will make it possible for you to see the unknown or the unseeable, invisible. And that stuck with me all these years. Yes, that’s right. So I really rolled up my sleeves and went all the way through calculus before I went to college. I was into college in mathematics.

That’s 1934 I graduated, after the depression. My dad was only working part time. I had two younger brothers. So my job was to go out and find a job and that was very difficult. But I wandered into Standard Oil Company in their downtown office. I was answering an ad for messenger boys, Western Union messenger boy. I didn’t have a bicycle. I didn’t know the difference. But I walked across there thinking I might get a job in a service station. And the man behind the desk said well son this is the headquarters, but let me see your high school transcript. And he looked at it. I had straight A’s in math. He said if you don’t have anything to do we’d like to give you some tests and that was the beginning of my whole career. I took two hours of tests. I got home and my mom said they want you.

So I put what they call the Economics Department. I didn’t know what economics was, but was part of a human computer. There were half a dozen kids like myself that were picked up because of our aptitude and analytical abilities and we processed statistical data. And I was there until 1939. The war started. My dad was working in the shipyards. My two brothers were drafted and so I said now I can go to college.
I actually started the spring semester which was in 1940 and the courses they were still teaching post Kings, I mean pre Kings and as a matter of fact it was almost as though they were forbidden to talk about Kings in economics. I had already read his books so I knew what they were. We were back at the turn of the century neoclassical economics. And I thought this is ridiculous. Fortunately, the only thing that kept me is they opened up an Institute of Business Economic Research and I applied for a job. Well they said you’re a freshman, we’re looking for graduate students, but I showed them my Visa and it happened that if a freshman was doing an in-depth study of the Pacific Coast Petroleum Industry. So I was hired as one of the first – one of their first research assistants to work on this three volume study of the Pacific Coast Petroleum Industry. So I leaped frogged into graduate work right there. Then I got to talk to the faculty on a person-to-person basis and because of my architectural drafting ability I could make beautiful charts and diagrams for their learned articles. So I was in great demand for that too. Everything I did I was able to use later on. And then the next professor that took over was a young graduate Ph.D. from Columbia who had done studies of business cycles and broken down into sub national levels. And they didn’t even have a course in business cycles at that time and he instituted that. So he became my mentor for the rest of the time that I was at Berkeley. He went to the office of price administration. He pulled me over there with him and that is how I got into the war work with Office of Price Administration.

What happened at Berkeley you had no student housing provided by the state or by the federal government except if you were foreign student you had international house. So that the only alternatives you had was to go to one of the Greek houses, the flats for the sororities or you were at the mercy of the private sector so called which were little old ladies who had rooming houses and they were pretty tough little old ladies.

Well during the 30’s some of the students that were there before decided to set up a student co-ops and the ones that we were in one was the Methodist Church were into what they call social action Christianity so they decided that co-ops were the way to go, the middle wave (inaudible) and that sort of stuff. Good old days before people were scared away by being branded as a communist because you thought of something different. Once they did they turned their recreation dining area which wasn’t being used anyhow to the student co-op. They found themselves the Three Squares. And there was an eating co-op and then they picked up houses. The boys were in a what had been a frat house back in the 1870’s and 80’s. And they went to work and fixed it up. We all did chores and so that is where we got by. But I became – because I knew double entry bookkeeping I became the treasurer for both the co-ops. Kept the books. I didn’t have to do any work shifts. I was a white-collar worker. I was part of management.

George Rogers: And Jean arrived from Idaho. She sent her money in early and she –

A $10 deposit.
They had a get together you know the way they do to introduce everybody around and there were a lot of junior transfers to Berkeley. They encouraged that and when I met George I said isn’t it fun for you to put the faces to those ten dollars you got? And he said yes.

And of course the way he tells it he made up his mind to marry me early on but my – the girls at the girls house think I just chased him right down into a corner. You see he was a mutual thing, been kind of a mutual thing ever since.
And when she walked in, I said to my roommate. He said well what was she like? I said well she has the body of a high-class model. I’m sorry Jean. She has the best looking legs this side of Marlena Dietrich and she has a smile that lights up the whole room. And Vernon said to me, George, I think you’re in love. And I was. Then we got to know each other-
I had my studies all worked out. I was going to do it in two years. The reason I could do it – is I thought I could do it, is if you read the fine print if you maintain a B plus, A minus average you can take as many credits as you could work in, but you are supposed to get your faculty advisor to approve this. Well my faculty advisor was a dolt, he said he took my thing, I was taking chemistry. He scratched it out and he said astronomy for non-major. And I said why? He said well it is a snap course and it is full of sorority girls. I said well that is not exactly what I was looking for but okay I’ll do that. And sure enough it was full of sorority girls. Jean kept saying George why are all these pretty girls talking to you, but that’s another story.

But I had put as my minor not political science cause I read some of the things this is Mickey Mouse. I took English literature. He said why are you taking English lit? Because I want to get an education while I’m getting my degree. And I had signed up for the course – it was a survey course for majors. It was a five-minute course and Jean was a junior transfer from Idaho. She had decided she better audit that course. So I came into chemistry auditorium and a huge crowd there and I looked around for a seat. And Jean was wearing a purple sweater and a big smile and she had a seat next to her so I went right there and sat down. Then so after class she would sit – my class is a (inaudible). Well mine is too. Well her class was down at the other end but she walked up with me and from that point on we got closer and closer. I said I had already pretty much made up my mind.

But I was interested in getting away from economics that was being taught. I said I want to get an island that the things that are brought in and out are defined, that I can simple enough that I can grasp how the whole thing operates and then I got to Alaska. I said this is my island. Because everything that came in and out was measured and then I can just concentrate on understanding how the thing operated. How it adjusted to these forces and it was a very abnormal thing.

One of my professors said to me that you don’t want to study the normal, the successful economy, you learn nothing from that. Study the malfunctioning economy because you learn from what’s going wrong. And that’s exactly, yes right, but my idea of Alaska I knew after the war it is going to change. It was going no place before. Over 80% of the value of output was canned salmon and gold. The rest of it was just like miscellaneous stuff like halibut and a few a things. It was a two-crop economy, which is not a very stable economy. And it was dominated by absentee interests and it was sort of a traditional colony.

George Rogers: I was sent to Alaska because they had discovered that I could understand accounting, I could read what the Ph. D.’s couldn’t, so I had to teach them how to read balance sheets and that sort of thing. Then I was a troubleshooter. I went all over the Pacific Coast, took Jean alone, so we visited her parents in Phoenix and so on. And my final assignment was to go to Alaska. They said George the Department of the Army said we have a lot of Catholic boys in the Army, they want fish for Friday, you haven’t put a ceiling price on raw fish. We can’t afford to provide raw fish. Do something about it. So they said George go to Alaska and roll back the ceiling price, roll back the price of raw fish. Well fortunately for me I arrived and it was January 7th, wasn’t it Jean?

Jean: Uh-huh.

1945

George Rogers: So we came up with the Princess North, which was a lovely experience. It was like going back in the last century. The war was on but they had all the food that they used to have in the P&O, the Pacific and Orient. And they had full staff of the servants. The silverware was spread out and we had a wonderful time. And you got to know everybody on board.

That was a wonderful experience. By the time we got to Juneau we had learned a lot about Alaska just talking to all the other Alaskans that were going home.
Well it was a wonderful adventure and we thought we were doing we were doing our war duty and actually got here and there was all sorts of things that we hadn’t seen in Berkeley for a long time. Like steaks and eggs and whipped cream and even if it was Abescet.

Well we had signed on for two years, like all government employees do you know. And we found out that not only was it a (inaudible) town, although it was only about 6,000 people you know, but it had a flavor to it and besides as you know George found this to be an ideal spot to do this research was wanting to do. So it was just a terrific happenstance. We thought we were just really fortunate. And Mildred Herman took right a hold of me and said now just because you’re going to be housewife and a mother doesn’t mean that you can’t do public duties and volunteer your time and so on and so I’ve been doing that ever since.

But the streets weren’t paved. There were wooden sidewalks. We had a volunteer fire department, which we still have. And the way the volunteers were called is having at the top of City Hall there was a big horn that blasted out and they had a code you could tell where you were supposed to go. That’s where the fire was. You all jumped into your cars or you ran on foot to that place and you became a fireman.

We built our first house ourselves and we came back to Alaska with a book that George had that said How to Build Your Own Home for $3,000. And he can do anything he can read about, except plumbing. He said he wasn’t going to do the plumbing. So we managed to pay for the plumber to come, but he did all the wiring and he did it right. And I was only allowed to hammer things where it didn’t show because I was not very good with a hammer. Second under coatings but never anything on the surface that was going to show.

But let’s see when I went North at Anchorage the plane it was a Fairchild Load Star two engine. It landed – we had land at Yakutat. We had to land at Cordova. And each time we landed we had to stay for about an hour while the pilot got up his nerve to fly on to the next thing. We flew past the Fairweather Range and had to look up at the mountains. We thought we landed in the middle of town and we stopped right in front of a pie bakery. I hope they weren’t raising anything in the way of souffles and things. But that’s the way it was. The military establishment was there and they had their stuff, but this was a civilian thing. There were still 1930 vintage planes being flown.

And then from there I flew up to Fairbanks. I could have taken the railroad, but that was – took too long and besides it was the roadbed wasn’t too reliable. Fairbanks was just like landing in – back in the last century some place. The gold was closed down but the big dredges were all like a bunch of pasture full of dinosaurs sitting out there waiting to start chewing again.

George Rogers: The idea of a University in Alaska was one that appealed to me. Sure you could as one of the (inaudible) you could afford to give an area kid scholarship to any University of his choice and it wouldn’t cost as much as having a University and somehow we needed the University. I still believe that.

’45 I came up there – came into the main building and I was looking around for – and there was an old man with a push broom pushing and he had overalls on and I said I’m trying to find Dr. Bunnell and he said well he said you go down to the end of the hall there and turn left and that’s his office. So I went down the hall and turned left and here was this janitor sitting behind the desk. I was flabbergasted he said, well he said I’m trying to save money by doing the janitor work you know. But it was that sort of operation.

Well he was very impressed and I was impressed too because he was the governor. You could talk to him. He was a brilliant man. There is no question about it. And he convinced me that Alaska needed statehood and second reply was what the economic consequences of that were. And so what he wanted me to do is to work on a tax system with the territory. There are three taxes. He wanted income tax, property tax, and business license tax. The income tax he said this is the last one. I can’t get this passed. It was 120 pages long. I read the thing. I said governor you have been taken. This took the federal regulations and almost verbatim made them Alaska’s income tax.

I said why don’t we do this. Your income tax will be X percentage of what the federal tax would be on the income you are earning within Alaska. And I reduced it to 12 pages. It took two tries. The second try was passed by the legislature. I said no legislator in his right mind is going to pass a tax bill that is that thick that he can’t understand. And the governor bought that idea and it worked. It was written up in the Harvard Law Review. It was challenged. It went to the San Francisco Court and the judge there said this is a brilliant idea. And he said all the states should learn something from this. And a number of states have done versions of that.

When I went to work for Gruening it was with the understanding I would work for just three years to get the revenue program underway. I did other jobs too, odd jobs you know. Like the Mafia hires a hit man that’s the sort of thing I did. No, I didn’t, but basically he said to me George what are you going to do after this? I said I’m going back to Berkeley to get my doctorate. He said don’t do that. I’ll give you a recommendation to Harvard. They have a program of the Littower Foundation has a program that you could use. So I said okay. I’ll switch. I can go – where do you go from Berkeley, you go to Harvard. That’s pretty good. Then I went from Harvard to Cambridge, England and the Sorbohn too.

But the thing is that he did, but he didn’t want me go when the time came. And he was very reluctant to let me go. He said there is a lot of work here. I said well I’ll come back.
I got what they call a joint degree and it was called Doctor of Political Economy. And in Cambridge, England they don’t have economics they have political economy because they look upon economics not as a stand-alone science but as a means of managing things which makes a lot more sense.

Well Frank was a career man. He was highly ethical in everything he did. I have nothing but greatest respect for him, but he did everything by the book, which drove me crazy sometimes when I had worked for him. But he was a very principled man and he was dedicated to the beliefs of Gilford Pinchot and brought the tablets down from heaven. But yes I had nothing but respect for Frank.

In a way he was – I worked for him briefly for about two or three years. That’s another story, but he said that he was afraid that we couldn’t afford to support statehood. I said I agree with you, but that we are not going to be able to afford statehood until we get it because we don’t have control over our own destiny. So the legislature absolutely everything they did had to be approved by the congress. We couldn’t incur any indebtedness. There were lots of things we couldn’t do and you were in a straight jacket. You had to get rid of that. We had no lands that we could draw upon to get revenues from. So statehood would bring those things in. So I tried to argue with him that statehood would make it possible to afford statehood. He didn’t quite buy that.

For a while there was a commonwealth idea that was circulated. And Puerto Rico was a commonwealth and he said George research this for me. I have some friends who think we should become a commonwealth. So I did. I went to the (inaudible) and they said well what they do Frank is that you have charge – the local people have charge of everything. Defense is provided by the federal government. Everything else and he said well does that mean that the Forest Service would become a local? I said yes. That changed his mind immediately.

He was Republican and the Republicans as a whole were anti-statehood. Although during the Constitutional Convention they – very concerned Republicans worked very well on that..

We referred to Fairbanks as the heart remember, the heart of Alaska and that was sort of a symbolic thing was in the center of the land mass. And I think Juneau is ideal for the capitol because the capitol should be a place like in Australia they put it in Cambera in sheep country and in Brazil they put it in the middle of the jungles some place to get it away from the big centers so they could look at the whole thing.

George Rogers: The University was just beginning to feel its growth going there. When I first saw the University it looked like a Siberian penal institution. We had these wooden structures with a water tower which had a (inaudible) was tape playing up on top there and just reminded me of pictures I’ve seen in Siberian of these buildings. And this was this territorial days so they couldn’t go into debt.

He was very important in the first place in getting the whole thing going cause fair amount Tom Stewart. He had originally he was having been in the war he was looking for a way to eternal peace and he thought – he took up Russian studies. And then he abandoned them when he realized that he was dealing with more than he could handle taking on the Soviet Union. And he came back and he decided to push for statehood

Tom is the one who sort of went into local and territorial politics in order to promote statehood and he did it very systematically and very thorough and he worked very hard on this. He worked up the idea of the convention. He also worked up the idea on staffing it and bringing in a consulting firm that was top flight to tell us. He was determined to have what he considered to be a model constitution. We could learn from what mistakes had been made in the past. So he had devoted a lot of his time to that. When he was in the legislature he worked very hard to get the legislation for the convention, the appropriations, all those sort of things. And it was almost a single-handed job. He did it.

And I say this is what I think the fact that he was overworked. And then when he came to the convention and he was expected to be appointed to the secretary there were a couple of people stepped forward and set themselves up as candidates for this and for a while he thought he might lose out at the last moment, but that didn’t happen. He had that anxiety too.

But he did a terrific job on putting the convention together and this sort of thing was just overexertion. The doctor said to him he said you don’t have a heart attack. He described like there were iron bands across my chest. I couldn’t breathe. And he said what you should do is marry Jane. Jane Stewart he was sort of courting her and so he proposed to marry her and he came back and was a whole man.

Well actually the first month Tom Stewart had what they thought was a heart attack and Egan and Brovonovich appointed me to take over as acting secretary while he was gone. So it turned out it was just overworked himself to the point of collapse and then he was in good shape to finish up with his term but so I had part of the organization of it, the household things. The liaison with the military about providing color guard to come and open the sessions and things. I knew just exactly who to appoint to do that for me. I didn’t do it. Kept them out of my hair, but you pick out the ones that are going to be a nuisance and give them jobs to do and they are just delighted. When Tom came over it was all the nitty gritty stuff was put together, then the thing really went it and the second month is when things got done.

He was president and he was an unusual politician. He had this phenomenal memory. He would meet you in a crowd and come back 10 years later and say he remembered oh you had kids and how is so and so doing. He could remember these details. He didn’t have somebody prompting him. He was just incredible. When he was governor he would dress up like Santa Claus and go down to the supermarket and greet everybody. Things like this. He was the common man. He had a lot of good common sense and on the whole he was very trustworthy. He was just right for the job. He had his shortcomings too. We all do, but they weren’t – he was not corrupt in any way, just a – that to me is the bottom line with this guy. Real, this guy is honest, and he is ethical and he met all those things.

But Bill was able to let everybody speak their piece and he also knew when bring the – his gavel down and say you’ve had your talk now. Let’s move on to somebody else. He ran a very good show.

George Rogers: I was working for Frank Heintzleman. He just turned me over to them and said do whatever they want. And I did a lot of work on the natural resources provision on the apportionment (inaudible) because I was also – well I didn’t take any formal courses in geography, but I did a lot of reading on that. So I had this little handbook, regional handbook, which I designed, had reproduced for the legislators so they could – most people who were Alaskans only thought of the area in which they lived. Then they went outside. There was no sense of how we fit into this – the rest of Alaska. And bringing these people together because on the basis for the election to the legislature the distance for the judicial district – the Fourth Judicial District, which meant that the dominant city or town in each of the divisions voted everybody in, except for Bill Egan. He was voted from Valdez instead of Anchorage. There were exceptions, but for the most part it was like Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Nome. So this was the first time that the rural population was represented in any body like this. The people from Dillingham. You had a mix of people from the Eskimo community and Frank Baronvich was the vice president and the Tlingits are great orators. They know how to speak formally and he was – he added dignity to the whole proceeding.
So that was bringing together Alaskans that had never had a voice before. That’s what made it so remarkable.
not everybody at the convention was in favor of Alaska becoming a state but they went along with this idea because it was an opportunity to examine what was possible here and I got some very interesting feedback from some very conservative people on that. That was what that whole experience was just marvelous.

Statehood proponents were looking at the history of how other states came in. Tennessee, what they did – they didn’t wait for congress to act. They wrote a constitution. They elected their delegation to congress, sent the delegation to Washington, DC and demanded that they be seated. And then while congress recovered from this blow, they lobbied individual members of congress and it worked. They got it. So we decided that we would try that and it did work.

We had Ernest Gruening, Ralph Rivers, and Bob Bartlett. And they were all very good. Bob Bartlett was particularly good at politics you know. He was a master politician. Ernest Gruening was a showboated quite a bit and offended some people but nonetheless he was brilliant and when he spoke people listened. He was worth listening to. Ralph Rivers went along with the other two and he was okay. He was a common man out there. He could relate to a lot of people. We had a good delegation, a good mix of types.
this was before we had achieved statehood. We wrote the constitution at first and then use that as a gimmick to elect the convention delegation and sent them back demanding that they be seated. And then they hung around and were lobbyists for the – and it worked.

The field people for the most part that I knew managed the rules and a few other people like that were very sincere in trying to manage the fisheries. But when their recommendations were sent to back to Washington, DC representatives of the processors went back there and between them and the bureaucrats back there they determined what the management plan would be, regardless of what the biological research said about the resources. So they over fished and it was because of the federal mismanagement and I say I exempt the people that were working at the field level because they were totally frustrated by this being overridden by somebody who was making a profit from over fishing.

George Rogers: The other thing I was interested in that was why this was the management was by the federal government. There was no input from Alaskans in the fish management program in those days. So that gave me sort of a symbol of what Alaska was like under territorial operation.
This was a very efficient way of harvesting the fish. In fact, in my view it was the only way that salmon should have been harvested because the fish worked out to the runs. You could manage. You knew what was coming and going. You could control the escapement of the fish. You could then control the harvest. You didn’t have to chase mobile gear all over the place. And it was just perfect, but the trouble with the fish trap was that it was owned by the processors, the canners, and they were all outside interests. they were putting resident fisherman out of work.

Their – if they weren’t there my father could be fishing and that money would come to us not somebody back there. The trap was impersonal. It caught the fish and they referred as fish killers, well the fishermen were too, but it was a little bit rubbed off on them and they got a little bit of money from us, but the trap was too automatic.

It is interesting that when they repealed the – when they outlawed the fish trap, they let the Indians retain their traps. Traditionally Indians used the equivalent of a trap. They built a dam across the river that salmon would school up and when they had what they wanted, they then let the salmon out. Of course the Indians gave this a mythical sort of thing. These were the salmon people. If we didn’t allow some of them to go up, they wouldn’t come back again. So they went up to some never-never land where they became human, took human form. And so they had a sense of this and the fish trap that would be operated the same way. It would corral the fish into the stream. They would all sort out. You knew where they were going. It was ideal for management, but it was the ownership of the traps that made them mad.

The fish trap therefore is looked upon by most Alaskans as the dipper with which the large absentee owner appeared to skim with relative ease the cream of one of the regions most valuable natural resources and then carried away to the outside the fullest part of the wealth so guarded. That’s pretty poetic.

The theme of absentee ownership on the means of production and control over natural resources and the intended resident, nonresident conflict and resentment is a classic one inevitable in any area with natural resources to be developed and without local capital adequate to the job. This frequently as rational as it is inevitable for without the outside capital and the intended control of influence with local affairs there would be no development. And it is unlikely that even the alleged half loaf would be available to the residents. But it is nonetheless a real force in regional affairs in southeast Alaska this broad and almost abstract conflict has been given a sharp focus by the existence of a tangible object – the fish trap, which has come to represent the very quintessence of absenteeism.

The traps had long been the principal bete noire of Alaskan political demonology. The anti trap case has been emotionally elaborated and distorted to the point where even Alaskans who had never seen one really would readily brand them as fish killers. And at times would seem to look upon them as a very embodiment of the evil in this world. The story of the repeated efforts of Alaskans through their territorial legislature and territorial delegate to congress to have fish traps abolished as illegal gear or to equalize the alleged private and social costs through a differential taxation may not be decided here. The measurement of the popular sentiment regarding this controversial gear was taken by a referendum at the 1948 general election, which resulted in a territorial wide vote of 19,712 to 2,624 for trap abolition. The ratio of almost eight to one.

But now what is bete noire anyway?

Well that’s a black –
Black sheep or black –
Black – Raven a little bit.

No, that’s a terrible – that’s a beast – black beast.

Cause George says it is the Betenwah of Alaska.

I was showing off that I understand French.

Interviewer: I mean, did you think that there was a federal you know it was sort of incompetence on some of the agencies or what was you know like your view or Gruening’s view on because so many Alaskans want to blame out the feds.

George Rogers: Yes, yeah.

Interviewer: Do you think any of that is fair I mean that idea about the.

George Rogers: It’s one of the things you can’t generalize on. My first book, what I was studying there was the operation, the rule a bureaucracy plays in economic change and development. And I took the southeast region because it was one of the most bureaucratic ridden. Practically all the mining resources were under the forest service. The fisheries were under the Fish & Wildlife Service and then the Bureau of Land Management picked up the rest of it. So then the people, the Indians were all under Bureau of Indian Affairs. In those days they were a minority, but they are a very large minority, as you know.

So that representing – by studying those bureaucracies each one was totally different. Totally different in the way they were structured, in what their ideology was. The forest service wore Smoky the Bear uniforms you know. On the other hand they were the most decentralized. The regional forest was the one where the buck stopped. The Fish and Wildlife service they had agents in the field but everything was done in Washington, DC. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was organized on the basis of well most of their employees were former schoolteachers and their whole objective was to keep the Natives on the other side of the counter. I remember the first Native employees were brought in they were struck up in the balcony of the store front office so they would be out of sight.

So you had these different type bureaucracies all working at counter to each other. And so I couldn’t generalize on that. Actually I questioned it. I think the Forest Service were the best organized because they were organized on military grounds.

Also Gilford Pinchot was a saint. He knew what he was doing. He organized the whole resource thing with the working circle concept which was you look at the resource that this – at the hub there would be a community and this would be harvested so that by the time you finished the circle the new growth had come in so there would be a perpetual source of support for that hub. That’s the ideal and you did – had to do primary processing within the region. You couldn’t export logs. Exceptions were made later and – but it had an objective. You looked at the forest resource, it’s an old growth forest, which means that it is a mix of stands and so in order to really get at the good timber you couldn’t harvest it, you had to have a pulp mill which would use anything. That cleared it up and then you could harvest – you could afford to harvest the timber. At least that was the theory.

Phil Holtz and I were working at the Constitution Convention and he says, George, it is a good thing we’re doing – we’re writing this article now when the oil industry comes on the scene, they’d we writing the article. I think that would have been true.

If Alaska hadn’t become a state, the oil industry would have just come in and negotiated with the federal government with their buddies and they would have got a much better deal than they had here. They wouldn’t have to worry about taxation. They wouldn’t have an income tax on their earnings. They would have cut a better deal on the royalties and their leases. I doubt whether the Natives would have gotten anything out of this. Statehood did provide because they were citizens. They got a better status that many indigenous peoples under a territory. So I think it was beneficial. It created – well my dissertation at Harvard was the creating of an American polity. My faculty advisor suggested that title politic brings in the Aristotle and all the rest of it. But the idea that we created a government up here, a community up here, rather than just leaving it just a place you came up like a warehouse and took things out as you needed them, which is what we would have been.

George Rogers: When I was working for Standard Oil Company in the 1930’s the oil companies knew about the oil at Prudhoe Bay and I spoke to my boss about this. Why aren’t we developing that? He says George that is like having – saying that there is oil on the moon. We don’t know how to get it out of there. The seas would be frozen. The sea is too shallow for a tanker to come in to shore, which we discovered. I don’t know why they didn’t know that in the first place before they had that tanker come around and anchored miles offshore. They said it is there. We know it’s there and then we know that it is very rich. The Navy withdrew, but they always do when there is some new discovery, withdrew their reserves, but again that was just to be in case of an emergency. We’ll figure out how to get it out later.

And after 1950 something I decided that I would run for the local government. I was involved in local government for about 17 years. People just ignored local government in those days. It was and there weren’t a lot of things about government because it wasn’t as dominant as it became.
This was right after the statehood Constitutional Convention. I decided we’re not paying enough attention to local government. That’s where the government is as far as most people are concerned. And generally you had people who had – they were merchants they wanted to be sure that they didn’t put a no parking zone in front of their store and things like that, very earth shaking things. So I decided I would run. I got elected. Jean, took $25 out of her grocery fund so I could buy an ad.

And that’s when I discovered they didn’t have a double entry bookkeeping system. Literally the clerk had shoeboxes. And then the other thing I discovered is that they had – they didn’t have – I had more personal liability insurance than the city had. And the reason was that they wanted to do it on the cheap.

Well I made a few major changes there. I got a double entry bookkeeping. And they said well George we always have it audited every year. So I said let me see the audits. Well the first page says we cannot really do a proper audit on this with the records that you have on hand. We recommend that you institute you know. I said didn’t anybody read this. Oh, no, we just assumed that they signed off on it.

But again the state and then we had borough government too. And I also Mildred Herman with my boss at OPA insisted that we draft a charter, a proper charter, which I worked on the charter commission too. So I was in the business of designing of the local government also. And then we became the city and borough. I came from San Francisco which the city and county of San Francisco. So I knew how that worked and we could do the same thing here, which we did. So then I went on the borough assembly too. But it was total of about 17 years of local government I put in. And I said okay now it is time for some young person to come in and take over. I was still a young person but I felt somebody should take a turn. I had urged – I came out in public and said that any Alaskan who has any time should get into local government and make a contribution. And I think we have had pretty good government since then. And it was good. We have grown a lot. We had to become better.

It was right after statehood and the legislature directed me and the University to set up an institute of both business and economic research. So they turned to me and said would you do that? I said sure. So I designed this thing and for a while I ran it by myself. And I transferred the grant that I had from Resources for the Future with their approval to the University. And so we set up a pattern that I would bring in research money for my own research, they would take their overhead which was like 40 percent of what I brought in and I would be a faculty member.

That was an interesting experience too, but it was the University in transition. We just got Wickersham Hall that was built for the girls and then we had Chena Ridge was where the students would go and dig a hole in the hill and put a sod roof on it and they’d come in and use the gymnasium to take their showers and do their laundry and it was – but there was a sense of people trying to get an education there in that sort of rough situation, which I liked very much.

I retired at full retirement. I became an adjunct officio which was I would be paid when I worked on a piece basis.
They gave me an emeritus status, which was an honorary status as you know.

The term colony is a very tricky thing. You could say that the West today is a colony of the continent – of the rest of the United States and would be only partly true. A true colony is one in which the indigenous people had no say in what is being done to them and to their land.

George Rogers: In Alaska that’s not true. We have a lot to say, particularly with statehood. And I think that statehood sort of lifted us from the colonial status because we had rights, we had things that we could enforce, we could control our own destiny. A true colony was one which you simply go in and I use the idea of warehouse, pull it out, forget about the people who were there. They don’t count. They are just part of the wallpaper, but Alaska was never that sort of colony.

Under Russian rule, under the initial US rule, it was probably true because the indigenous peoples base of survival was wiped out or seriously damaged by the harvesting of salmon for example. It wasn’t until the White Act was passed – I think it was 1923 that the salmon resource was managed on the basis of its going to its source and coming back again, otherwise it was simply treated like a wasting resource, which it was. It was mined in other words, not harvested.

The big change came when we got the big money from the oil – Prudhoe Bay and it just all of a sudden things started changing. We lost our idealism. We lost the idea that we were working together, conservatists, liberals, everybody, creating a beautiful state and it became money grubbing on the natural element. You had the greed taking over in the 1990’s. You saw what happened to accounting. That sacred thing that I started with is no longer sacred. They know how to cook the books.

The state needed the natural resources economics, as well as special corner of the economic studies and there you look at a resource, renewable resources is one that you grow it back again – fisheries, forest, and so on and that sort of thing.

And minerals, petroleum, that sort of thing is a wasting resource. When you dig it out, you get rid of it, it is gone. It doesn’t reproduce itself. But if you look upon it when you sell the resource, not as income but rather a changing of the resource, a crude oil in the ground or metal to a resource cash that you invest and then the income from the investment becomes your income. And of course that is the basic underlying theory of a Permanent Fund, although it got all screwed up with other things like rainy day fund and a lot of other things, but as a economist I looked upon it as that it gave petroleum a life after death. And in theory at least if you knew how to manage your money it could go on in a permanent way. It became a permanent asset rather than a wasting asset. That’s the basic difference between a renewable and a wasting asset.

Well of course it was really fun when we adopted our first little girl. It was really fun when we adopted our last little boy. I don’t know I think there’s a state of mind in which you decide to be happy with what you have and I was certainly of that state of mind. Besides he’s a great guy.

Well he’s thoughtful. He’s courteous. He’s kind. He’s loving. He’s smart. He’s talented you know. He’s just a great guy. And he likes me. We still like each other.

Oh, it was a time of real thrill because we were building a state and it just inspired all kinds of people and all kinds of people came here. We met all sorts of interesting people here and I must have invited a lot of them to dinner. It was just a great and glorious time.

 

Full interview transcript

George and Jean Rogers
Interviewed by Dr. Terrence ColeTerence: Okay, today is, what day is today? September 22nd, right. Tomorrow is my birthday. Okay. And so we’re in Juneau at the home of George and Jean Rogers, where they have graciously allowed us to invade and talk with us. So first we’re talking to George Rogers. George, maybe you could just tell us a little about where you were born, where you grew up and …..George: That’s dangerous to ask an old man a question like that because we’ve become very garrulous when we get old.

Terence: That’s okay.

George: I was born in San Francisco in the Patrilla District. If you know San Francisco, you know what that is, in 1917 – April 15th, which used to be the Ides of – no that wasn’t the Ides of March that’s tax day, like the same thing.

Terence: Ides of April, yeah, right. And so you grew up in the San Francisco area right?

George: Yes, right.

Terence: How long did you stay – what was your early your education and stuff?

George: Well I went through the usual school system, which in those days was not the sort of thing we have. The Patrillo District was a place where new Americans came in – Irish and Italian. And my mother was Australian and my father was of Cornish descent. So I spoke with an Australian accent which they assumed was English, which gave me trouble on the playground, but I became an Italian and I survived.

But the other thing is that at age 12 we moved out of the district into the Sunset District and unfortunately this high school was a polytechnic high school and the name tells it all. I majored in mathematics, architectural drafting, and physics. The rest of it was Mickey Mouse work or working on the lathe or in a foundry or something like that. But that gave me the basis for my future education, the math particularly. I had inspiring teachers, two of them. And I never forget Ms. Worman, who was an old lady said children mathematics will make it possible for you to see the unknown or the unseeable, invisible. And that stuck with me all these years. Yes, that’s right. So I really rolled up my sleeves and went all the way through calculus before I went to college. I was into college in mathematics.

That’s 1934 I graduated, after the depression. My dad was only working part time. I had two younger brothers. So my job was to go out and find a job and that was very difficult. But I wandered into Standard Oil Company in their downtown office. I was answering an ad for messenger boys, Western Union messenger boy. I didn’t have a bicycle. I didn’t know the difference. But I walked across there thinking I might get a job in a service station. And the man behind the desk said well son this is the headquarters, but let me see your high school transcript. And he looked at it. I had straight A’s in math. He said if you don’t have anything to do we’d like to give you some tests and that was the beginning of my whole career. I took two hours of tests. I got home and my mom said they want you.

So I put what they call the Economics Department. I didn’t know what economics was, but was part of a human computer. There were half a dozen kids like myself that were picked up because of our aptitude and analytical abilities and we processed statistical data. And I was there until 1939. The war started. My dad was working in the shipyards. My two brothers were drafted and so I said now I can go to college. And that’s the nutshell of my getting up to that point.

Terence: So and it was just like you say a human computer (inaudible).

George: Uh-huh.

Terence: Doing the calculations, that’s interesting.

George: Well for example I learned all my economics there because we didn’t make models. We didn’t even touch a model. We just started with raw data, processed it, and worked out all of the (inaudible) variations and other things so that you got what basic trends of these statisticals. We didn’t know what they were but then we plotted them on semi log paper and we had stacks of these. And then the analysts came into the room and we watched as they put these all up. They looked for patterns that were similar by association and then they say what’s the connection between these two? What they were searching for were what were the things that were causing the economy to change. And from that they got some insights into what was happening, which I have always kept that became part of my education in economics.

Terence: Looking for the pattern.

George: The patterns, yes. And looking for strategic factors. Most economists – well I think they’re coming to that now. They have caught up with what I was doing back in the 30’s. And it was very important for me to do that because I also realized that we have a free enterprise system. It’s a market economy, but as I said later in my life it was a designer’s market. It was the major oil companies sat down and we gave them information that they sat down and negotiated. They looked long term. They weren’t interested in maximizing a profit but expanding the demand for petroleum products.

Terence: So not maximizing immediately?

George: Immediate profits, that’s right, yes. They would sell things. For example they kept the price of crude down at $3 a barrel until right just before the pipeline was built. Now that was unusual to do that, but it meant that they were in control. Then they divided the market up.

Terence: Well after you – this early experience, you went to UC Berkeley, right?

George: Berkeley, that’s right, yes. That’s where I wanted to in the first place but by this time I thought well I probably missed the boat I’ll be drafted. Of course I wasn’t, I was a 4F, but I went there and I came in.

Terence: What did you get the exemption for, George?

George: My eyes.

Terence: Yeah. Do you know what your eyesight was, what was it?

George: Well I was – if I took my glasses off, I had trouble seeing. I could see that you were there but you were a glob. I put my glasses on and that helped a bit, but I was never going to be a sharpshooter. I wouldn’t be very much use. In those days they actually shot rifles.

Terence: That wouldn’t be so great.

George: I took one semester of ROTC and then they decided I was hopeless. We were using World War I equipment and I loved the Springfield rifle. We had to learn how to take it apart blindfolded and put it back together again. Things that are very helpful in the sort of war that we were fighting then.

Terence: Yeah, the Army is always looking ahead isn’t it and they were fighting the last war.

Terence: I forgot, how did you become an Italian?

George: Oh, that was very interesting. The Irish bullies move around in a group, but one thing about a bully he never stands alone. And they would pick out someone like myself who was different than the others and the whole thing was that they make a circle and knock you down and kick you. And then if you fought back then they could really clean up on you, say well he hit me first. Well this time I landed and my hand fell on a rock and I stood up and swung up – his name was Glen Noland, I hit him on the left temple. And head wounds bleed and all of a sudden blood was squirting and I dropped the rock, stood there, he started crying. Everybody was horrified. The playground monitor grabbed me, walked me into the school and I had to stand in front of the class this is a vicious person stay away. Well, the next thing I knew I was put in a speech correction class. And I came in and there were just Italian boys there and I said what are we doing here. He said well you talk funny too. So we became very good friends and it was a long story. I’d go into about how the head of the Italian boys – they had the poor young woman who was the only lessons she had was for stutters. So she went through this whole thing of having us sit at desks, pull down the blinds, and we said slow speech is easy. She said now imagine you’re in some sort of situation very peaceful and you’re walking along into the woods and it is all quiet and then she said now one of you tell what is happening. And the leader of the Italian says I was walking along and the birds were singing and I walked into this river and all of a sudden there was a rustling and a tiger lept out at me. And we all started laughing and she said no, no and she burst into tears. That was the last speech correction class I was in, but I had bonded with the Italians so I could stand over with the Italian boys with my hands on my hips and say okay you Irishmen come over here we’ll take care of you. So at that point I had an escort home. I was never bothered and I also had the reputation of being a very vicious person, but I have loved Italians ever since.

Terence: Naturally. Okay. So you went to – go back to Berkeley, so you were there after your distinguished military career –

George: Yes, one semester.

Terence: – and so did you graduate in econ?

George: Yes. I graduated with (inaudible). I actually started the spring semester which was in 1940 and the courses they were still teaching post Kings, I mean pre Kings and as a matter of fact it was almost as though they were forbidden to talk about Kings in economics. I had already read his books so I knew what they were. We were back at the turn of the century neoclassical economics. And I thought this is ridiculous. Fortunately, the only thing that kept me is they opened up an Institute of Business Economic Research and I applied for a job. Well they said you’re a freshman, we’re looking for graduate students, but I showed them my Visa and it happened that if a freshman was doing an in-depth study of the Pacific Coast Petroleum Industry. So I was hired as one of the first – one of their first research assistants to work on this three volume study of the Pacific Coast Petroleum Industry. So I leaped frogged into graduate work right there. Then I got to talk to the faculty on a person-to-person basis and because of my architectural drafting ability I could make beautiful charts and diagrams for their learned articles. So I was in great demand for that too. Everything I did I was able to use later on. And then the next professor that took over was a young graduate Ph.D. from Columbia who had done studies of business cycles and broken down into sub national levels. And they didn’t even have a course in business cycles at that time and he instituted that. So he became my mentor for the rest of the time that I was at Berkeley. He went to the office of price administration. He pulled me over there with him and that is how I got into the war work with Office of Price Administration.

Terence: Who was that George? Remember his name?

George: That was Frank Kidner. He became –

Terence: How do you spell that – K-I-N-

George: You know Frank, good old Frank with a K. Like Frank Murkowski only without the Murkowski. And the Kid was K-I-D-N-E-R, yeah.

Terence: Okay.

George: And his great thing was that he was a labor economist. He became the great mediator that they used him a lot in labor disputes. He became a vice chancellor and he tried to get me to come back to Berkeley. In fact I was planning to come back and get my Ph.D. under him, but fate determined differently. I was going to do this. But I was interested in getting away from economics that was being taught. I said I want to get an island that the things that are brought in and out are defined, that I can simple enough that I can grasp how the whole thing operates and then I got to Alaska. I said this is my island. Because everything that came in and out was measured and then I can just concentrate on understanding how the thing operated. How it adjusted to these forces and it was a very abnormal thing.

One of my professors said to me that you don’t want to study the normal, the successful economy, you learn nothing from that. Study the malfunctioning economy because you learn from what’s going wrong. And that’s exactly, yes right, but my idea of Alaska I knew after the war it is going to change. It was going no place before. Over 80% of the value of output was canned salmon and gold. The rest of it was just like miscellaneous stuff like halibut and a few a things. It was a two-crop economy, which is not a very stable economy. And it was dominated by absentee interests and it was sort of a traditional colony. It outgrew that later. It became like one of the mountain states afterward, with oil and other things.

Terence: George, what is it – why was it like a traditional colony?

George: Well it was exploited. The indigenous people their basis of subsistence, which was primarily salmon, and fish was being completely exploited and actually people starved to death up river because the salmon didn’t get up to the interior and it wasn’t until the White Act. I think it was 1924 came in that the management of the resources so that the whole resource was managed not just the coastal fishing of it. And it left the Native people what the Russians didn’t do United States finished. And they just almost wiped them out because their resource base was wiped out.

Terence: How did it when you first came up, what year did you first arrive, I mean with OPA a little bit and then cause I wanted to ask you something about fishing and the difference the way the territory treated fishing and mining? Because I looked at the tax statistics, fish production versus mining was three to one.

George: Uh-huh.

Terence: By 1959, but taxing fish to mining was nine to one. Fishing was taxed at a rate three times I mean so but anyway before we get to that let’s a little bit about OPA and what was it?

George: I’ll back up.

Terence: Okay.

George: I was sent to Alaska because they had discovered that I could understand accounting, I could read what the Ph. D.’s couldn’t, so I had to teach them how to read balance sheets and that sort of thing. Then I was a troubleshooter. I went all over the Pacific Coast, took Jean alone, so we visited her parents in Phoenix and so on. And my final assignment was to go to Alaska. They said George the Department of the Army said we have a lot of Catholic boys in the Army, they want fish for Friday, you haven’t put a ceiling price on raw fish. We can’t afford to provide raw fish. Do something about it. So they said George go to Alaska and roll back the ceiling price, roll back the price of raw fish. Well fortunately for me I arrived and it was January 7th, wasn’t it Jean?

Jean: Uh-huh.

George: 1945. I just had time to do a quick study of the existing fishing industry, which this was completely new territory. I got a quick grand tour of Alaska and I settled down. I said oh my God, but they dropped the two bombs so the war was over so I didn’t have to admit that I couldn’t do it. But Ernest Gruening then picked me up and wanted me to stay on for three years as his economist and work on a revenue program for the territory.

Terence: So let’s when did you and Jean leave, we should go back and talk about Gruening and the economy. You guys met in 19 – you were married in ’42 is that right?

George: ’42, yeah. And –

Terence: Well how did you first meet?

George: Well this is a long story too. All my stories are long. Old men do this. And it is just one of those things, you can cut this out later. But what happened at Berkeley you had no student housing provided by the state or by the federal government except if you were foreign student you had international house. So that the only alternatives you had was to go to one of the Greek houses, the flats for the sororities or you were at the mercy of the private sector so called which were little old ladies who had rooming houses and they were pretty tough little old ladies.

Well during the 30’s some of the students that were there before decided to set up a student co-ops and the ones that we were in one was the Methodist Church were into what they call social action Christianity so they decided that co-ops were the way to go, the middle wave (inaudible) and that sort of stuff. Good old days before people were scared away by being branded as a communist because you thought of something different. Once they did they turned their recreation dining area which wasn’t being used anyhow to the student co-op. They found themselves the Three Squares. And there was an eating co-op and then they picked up houses. The boys were in a what had been a frat house back in the 1870’s and 80’s. And they went to work and fixed it up. We all did chores and so that is where we got by. But I became – because I knew double entry bookkeeping I became the treasurer for both the co-ops. Kept the books. I didn’t have to do any work shifts. I was a white-collar worker. I was part of management.

And Jean arrived from Idaho. She sent her money in early and she –

Jean: A $10 deposit.

George: A $10 deposit and there was something about the way she wrote that little thing. This sounds like an interesting lady. And when she walked in, I said to my roommate. He said well what was she like? I said well she has the body of a high-class model. I’m sorry Jean. She has the best looking legs this side of Marlena Dietrich and she has a smile that lights up the whole room. And Vernon said to me, George, I think you’re in love. And I was. Then we got to know each other –

Jean: In an English class.

George: In an English class, yeah. I took English as my minor because my –

Terence: Did you take that class intentionally?

George: No, no. This was part of my – when I had my studies all worked out. I was going to do it in two years. The reason I could do it – is I thought I could do it, is if you read the fine print if you maintain a B plus, A minus average you can take as many credits as you could work in, but you are supposed to get your faculty advisor to approve this. Well my faculty advisor was a dolt, he said he took my thing, I was taking chemistry. He scratched it out and he said astronomy for non-major. And I said why? He said well it is a snap course and it is full of sorority girls. I said well that is not exactly what I was looking for but okay I’ll do that. And sure enough it was full of sorority girls. Jean kept saying George why are all these pretty girls talking to you, but that’s another story.

But I had put as my minor not political science cause I read some of the things this is Mickey Mouse. I took English literature. He said why are you taking English lit? Because I want to get an education while I’m getting my degree. And I had signed up for the course – it was a survey course for majors. It was a five-minute course and Jean was a junior transfer from Idaho. She had decided she better audit that course. So I came into chemistry auditorium and a huge crowd there and I looked around for a seat. And Jean was wearing a purple sweater and a big smile and she had a seat next to her so I went right there and sat down. Then so after class she would sit – my class is a (inaudible). Well mine is too. Well her class was down at the other end but she walked up with me and from that point on we got closer and closer. I said I had already pretty much made up my mind.

Terence: Because of the bookkeeping?

George: Yes.

Terence: With the bookkeeping?

George: Yes, right.

Terence: The whole expression of your life, bookkeeping.

George: Yes, double entry bookkeeping, I’m for that. And I’ll give a little plug, LaSalle International Correspondence School.

Terence: Because that is how you learned it?

George: That’s right, I learned it. Very good.

Terence: When you were still a teenager, right?

George: Yeah, I was only out of diapers.

Terence: So let’s talk about – so when you came to – so you guys were married in ’42?

George: Yeah.

Terence: And then your first trip – was that your first trip to Alaska in January ’47?

George: Yes, that’s right, ’45.

Terence: ’45. So and did you and Jean come up on the boat together?

George: Oh, yes.

Terence: So by then did the rules against women sending them outside were relaxed and stuff?

George: That’s right.

Terence: Okay. So you came in on January ’47 – why don’t you tell us about coming up on the ship?

George: January and in those days the military had the preference of air – flying machines and we were stuck with ground and water transportation. So we came up with the Princess North, which was a lovely experience. It was like going back in the last century. The war was on but they had all the food that they used to have in the P&O, the Pacific and Orient. And they had full staff of the servants. The silverware was spread out and we had a wonderful time. And you got to know everybody on board because you were thrown together for a week wasn’t it, huh, three days. I thought it was longer than that, it just seemed like it. But we wanted it to go on.

Terence: So it was three days?

George: My wife says three days, it must have been three days. It was a very fast boat, but that was a wonderful experience. By the time we got to Juneau we had learned a lot about Alaska just talking to all the other Alaskans that were going home. They went on across the gulf and on up the railroad and so on.

Terence: Did you do any studying before you came up? I mean you know have to do any reading or background work for?

George: Well I did a little. There wasn’t much time. This was a fast thing. In 1937, the Natural Resources Committee was asked by congress to it an appraisal of Alaska and its resources and what the prospects were. That was the most valuable book I read. It was a really hardhearted look at Alaska and they sum it all up. The conclusion was that Alaska is no place and it is not going any place in the foreseeable future. And they were against trying to subsidize any growth. They said just leave it there. Let the market and normal economic forces to take care. Don’t provide any subsidies.

Well interestingly right after the war the successor to the Natural Resources Committee was directed by the President and the Department of Defense by that time to consider Alaska as a critically important outpost and that we should develop Alaska immediately as a national security thing. Now I’m getting way ahead of the story, but that is what they were going to do, use subsidies necessary.

Terence: But what was the successor to the National Resources Planning Board? That wasn’t the (inaudible)?

George: No, no, no. That was different entirely. This was one that – now my memory – it was the Natural – I think it was called the Natural Resources Committee. I can look it up but it was about in 19 – the war was still on when they came on so before ’45.

Terence: Okay.

George: But they changed totally they flip flopped from the ’37 report to this report. This is in the interest of national defense. We should subsidize the development of Alaska.

Terence: Right. Yeah.

George: As a strategically important thing.

Terence: Well you know even if – well let’s talk about the – you arrived in January ’45 and what were the conditions like when you arrived? Just tell us about the blackout and situations.

George: Yeah. Most of that had been over by that time because the war had changed dramatically, as you know. In fact the war was over back here. So that a lot of those restrictions were gone, but you still were in the sense of a wartime. This was a rest and recreation for the troops area and you had a very lively line down here, the red light district, which by the way was run by the city. All pimps were kicked out and the girls had to report every Wednesday to the medical clinic and they were allowed to operate openly.

Terence: Was there a tax up here? Did they have a city tax like they do –

George: They did a property tax, yes.

Terence: No I mean no prostitution?

George: No, no. They were considered as an asset to the community because they kept the boys away from the girls that were not prostitutes, but that’s part of it. But the streets weren’t paved. There were wooden sidewalks. We had a volunteer fire department, which we still have. And the way the volunteers were called is having at the top of City Hall there was a big horn that blasted out and they had a code you could tell where you were supposed to go. That’s where the fire was. You all jumped into your cars or you ran on foot to that place and you became a fireman.

And after 1950 something I decided that I would run for the local government. I was involved in local government for about 17 years. People just ignored local government in those days. It was and there weren’t a lot of things about government because it wasn’t as dominant as it became.

But let’s see when I went North at Anchorage the plane it was a Fairchild Load Star two engine. It landed – we had land at Yakutat. We had to land at Cordova. And each time we landed we had to stay for about an hour while the pilot got up his nerve to fly on to the next thing. We flew past the Fairweather Range and had to look up at the mountains. We thought we landed in the middle of town and we stopped right in front of a pie bakery. I hope they weren’t raising anything in the way of souffles and things. But that’s the way it was. The military establishment was there and they had their stuff, but this was a civilian thing. There were still 1930 vintage planes being flown.

And then from there I flew up to Fairbanks. I could have taken the railroad, but that was – took too long and besides it was the roadbed wasn’t too reliable. Fairbanks was just like landing in – back in the last century some place. The gold was closed down but the big dredges were all like a bunch of pasture full of dinosaurs sitting out there waiting to start chewing again.

Terence: What year of that?

George: That trip was almost immediately, wasn’t it Jean?

Jean: (Inaudible)

George: We didn’t know it at the time. We didn’t know anything about the bombs.

Jean: (Inaudible).

George: It was a little tiny (inaudible). Well I did it.

Jean: No, it wasn’t. (Inaudible).

George: Well the 26th was the – what I would do –

Terence: That’s terrible –

George: Well what I would do I would do –

Terence: What kind of advice was that?

Jean: (Inaudible).

George: The general theory – the general theory. And I had that under my belt and they weren’t even teaching it there.

Terence: That’s amazing George of not teaching (inaudible). It just shows how especially by the 1930’s how ridiculous that is you know.

George: I couldn’t believe it when I was asked. I almost dropped out of the whole program, but my friends who were on the faculty said hang around George it is going to change and it did.

Terence: We’re talking about fighting the last war.

George: Yeah.

Terence: You know I mean teaching 19th century economics, the eve of WWII you know. Okay. You mentioned something about being involved in city politics. Did you actually run for office?

George: Yes I did, oh, yes.

Terence: When was that?

George: This was right after the statehood Constitutional Convention. I decided we’re not paying enough attention to local government. That’s where the government is as far as most people are concerned. And generally you had people who had – they were merchants they wanted to be sure that they didn’t put a no parking zone in front of their store and things like that, very earth shaking things. So I decided I would run. I got elected. Jean, took $25 out of her grocery fund so I could buy an ad. Is that right, Jean?

Jean: That’s right. (Inaudible).

George: I think it was on that transportation thing. We were going crazy trying – the scene of the dog team. The jet planes kept flying out, yeah. Do it over again.

Terence: Okay, so you ran after the convention. You had thought about running for city – city council, what was it?

George: City Council at that time. We – this was before we had achieved statehood. We wrote the constitution at first and then use that as a gimmick to elect the convention delegation and sent them back demanding that they be seated. And then they hung around and were lobbyists for the – and it worked.

Terence: The Tennessee Plan?

George: The Tennessee Plan, yes, that was what that was.

Terence: But let’s catch that but let’s talk about the city. So you were elected to the City Council?

George: Yes.

Terence: What year was that, George?

George: Couldn’t say.

Terence: So after ’56 anyway?

Jean: ’48 or ’49.

George: No, no, it was after the convention. So you got the convention date, you’ve got it.

Terence: Yeah ’55.

George: When I came back I said I’m going to run for local government and that’s when I discovered they didn’t have a double entry bookkeeping system. Literally the clerk had shoeboxes. And then the other thing I discovered is that they had – they didn’t have – I had more personal liability insurance than the city had. And the reason was that they wanted to do it on the cheap. And they had the airport – this was a municipal airport by that time and I said this is insane. And fortunately at that time the insurance company that the local agent had bought from, a Texas outfit that went into bankruptcy. So I said let’s get all the insurance agencies together, which I did. We sat down and between them and myself drafted up what the requirements were for a proper bookkeeping system for the city. And then they all bid on that. They told me they said George the only requirement was that we get the cheapest insurance you could get. They never even looked at the policy.

Well I made a few major changes there. I got a double entry bookkeeping. And they said well George we always have it audited every year. So I said let me see the audits. Well the first page says we cannot really do a proper audit on this with the records that you have on hand. We recommend that you institute you know. I said didn’t anybody read this. Oh, no, we just assumed that they signed off on it. So I mean that’s – I had my work cut out for me.

Terence: Story of Alaska government, that’s a local government. So how long were you on the council for a couple of terms or how?

George: Oh, yeah. I went on then –

Terence: We’ll figure out whatever year.

George: Yeah, I can get you the itinerary there, but again the state and then we had borough government too. And I also Mildred Herman with my boss at OPA insisted that we draft a charter, a proper charter, which I worked on the charter commission too. So I was in the business of designing of the local government also. And then we became the city and borough. I came from San Francisco which the city and county of San Francisco. So I knew how that worked and we could do the same thing here, which we did. So then I went on the borough assembly too. But it was total of about 17 years of local government I put in. And I said okay now it is time for some young person to come in and take over. I was still a young person but I felt somebody should take a turn. I had urged – I came out in public and said that any Alaskan who has any time should get into local government and make a contribution. And I think we have had pretty good government since then. And it was good. We have grown a lot. We had to become better.

Terence: Oh, sure, yes, especially going from the shoe box to –

George: Shoe box. Had some cigar boxes too.

Terence: Well that’s much better.

George: All he did was make what we call a trial balance. If the columns added up that was fine.

Terence: Yeah, that’s an awful – well let’s go back to now when Gruening, first, in ’45, so you came with OPA.

George: Yes.

Terence: Was there a guy named Price? Wasn’t he the guy – no that would be too appropriate. He was the OPA. Who was the head of OPA? I forget. Ron Price?

George: No, it wasn’t Price. That was – for a while it was, oh my God I can’t think of the names of them now. There was quite a turnover of heads of the OPA.

Terence: Well there was a guy in Seattle right?

George: The guy in Seattle, yes.

Terence: I can’t remember what his name was.

George: His name might have been Price, yes.

Terence: Yeah, but it just occurs to me now Ron, his name is Price, but you’re right, yeah. But anyway, so you came in ’45. You were with OPA. And so you obviously met Gruening. So what was this – was that the first meeting with him in ’45 then?

George: Yes. Yes.

Terence: So what was that? And you hadn’t been to Harvard yet at that time?

George: No, no.

Terence: Okay. So what was your meeting like with him and your impressions of him?

George: Well he was very impressed and I was impressed too because he was the governor. You could talk to him. He was a brilliant man. There is no question about it. And he convinced me that Alaska needed statehood and second reply was what the economic consequences of that were. And so what he wanted me to do is to work on a tax system with the territory. There are three taxes. He wanted income tax, property tax, and business license tax. The income tax he said this is the last one. I can’t get this passed. It was 120 pages long. I read the thing. I said governor you have been taken. This took the federal regulations and almost verbatim made them Alaska’s income tax.

I said why don’t we do this. Your income tax will be X percentage of what the federal tax would be on the income you are earning within Alaska. And I reduced it to 12 pages. It took two tries. The second try was passed by the legislature. I said no legislator in his right mind is going to pass a tax bill that is that thick that he can’t understand. And the governor bought that idea and it worked. It was written up in the Harvard Law Review. It was challenged. It went to the San Francisco Court and the judge there said this is a brilliant idea. And he said all the states should learn something from this. And a number of states have done versions of that.

So when you’re doing your federal tax before you – while you’re still deep in that go back and change your gross income to represent the income you earned within the state and then use the same regulations and forms. The only thing that was required each year the legislature had to vote on delegating that bit of process to the congress. That was no problem.

So we had a tax that was understandable and it covered everything. The sales tax was voted – didn’t – its purpose was to try to tax income from nonresident seasonal workers. That didn’t pass muster. Oh there was a property tax but that didn’t pass muster because the canning industry knew that they were being targeted because they were outside the city limits. And so that – the business license tax is still on the books by the way so one of them survived.

Terence: The property tax – remember – it was repealed after four or five years. I can’t remember how long, but largely because the salmon opposition right?

George: They said it was unequal taxation or some sort of – lawyers have ways of doing this and they did. They got rid of it. Besides I thought that was a good thing anyhow. That should be reserved for local governments to use and the sales tax the same way too. I was against having a state or territorial wide sales tax.

Terence: Well what was the tax situation you know how could you sort of describe the tax situation that faced you when you first looked at it before we – what did you make of it, cause it looks like it was kind of a mess?

George: It was mess and things were outdated. Like dance halls were taxed on their square footage of the dance floor. Well who the hell had a dance floor these days? Breweries were taxed on the population on the area served by the brewery. And a whole lot of things. Undertakers were taxed on the population of the area. A series of little licenses like that. It just covered parts of the thing. There was no sense to this and there was – the only taxes that were really sensible were the mining taxes and the pack tax on the salmon industry.

And the salmon industry was really the backbone of the whole territorial revenues and Judge Arnold was the one who was – each session that I was there when they came to the final review of the budget they would say – the Judge would be on the stand and they would treat him like he was a member of the legislature. They’d say Judge do you have any suggestions what our budget should be? Yes, I just happen to have in my pocket and he would put it out and they would vote on it with him still sitting on the stand. I couldn’t believe that. But he was a very sharp guy. I kind of admired him in a way. He was able to talk them into almost anything. And he was one of those characters that you admire in spite of what he is doing.

Terence: As far as you mean he had the legislature in his hands?

George: Yes, he did, yes.

Terence: Of course not Gruening certainly?

George: No, no.

Terence: Gruening was –

George: Oh, no, no. He was the Satan of the whole thing.

Terence: Well now I’m curious, this – cause just as these numbers I’ve been looking at so if this doesn’t – wasn’t something you ever thought about or occurred to you. I’m just curious on your reflection on it. I found that the mining taxes were just a fraction of the fish taxes.

George: Yeah.

Terence: I guess it was a three to one total value and I know that’s probably not a fair way of looking at this gross value.

George: No, I think, yeah.

Terence: Because operating expenses were much different. I mean there is a lot of very heavy operating expenses in the mining, but the slight taxes on mining was this gross gold tax put in in 1938 and that these guys squealed like this was the most awful tax in the history of mankind. There was one had – Alaska Miners Association, as you may recall, the gross poll tax is a tax on courage. I thought that was a great thing to tax.

George: Yeah.

Terence: Courage.

George: That’s courage.

Terence: But why would there be they look at this differently. I mean what was fishing seen more as a nonresident occupation, is that fair to say or do you know?

George: Well, it was. I mean there was no tax. There was a head tax. Everybody that came to Alaska that was employed got hit with that, a couple of dollars I think, that was about all. And the mining industry was a hangover from the days when the syndicate ran Alaska, which was primarily mining – the Guggenheims and a couple of other mining operators. And so they had a stranglehold on the territory and on the revenue system. So the fishing industry never was quite organized that way. They also – the fishing industry did have control of the shipping because they were, but the Guggenheims also bought that over too because they were planning to smelt copper in Alaska and then export the ingots from there, but that was frustrated by Teddy Roosevelt who wouldn’t allow them to use the coal areas. That was reserved for the future. That’s a whole another story.

Terence: Right, right.

George: It was a holdover from the days the syndicate ran Alaska.

Terence: Right. But it was clear that the taxes and stuff was out of synch –

George: Oh yes.

Terence: With the economy, right?

George: No. It had nothing to do with the economy at all and it was – there was so many things that we not taxed that should have been taxed.

Terence: And the average person’s tax was just a head – the school tax?

George: Just a school tax about the only tax I think we paid when we first came here.

Terence: Which I think was like $5.

George: Five dollars I think it was.

Terence: So let’s about talk about serving general – we’ve got this sort of issue of federal control. How did you sort of you look and as being a guy who worked for OPA and of course Gruening worked for the Secretary of Interior too?

George: Yes, right.

Terence: But how did I mean did you think that there was a federal you know it was sort of incompetence on some of the agencies or what was you know like your view or Gruening’s view on because so many Alaskans want to blame out the feds.

George: Yes, yeah.

Terence: Do you think any of that is fair I mean that idea about the.

George: Well, I think it – one of the things you can’t generalize on. My first book, what I was studying there was the operation, the rule a bureaucracy plays in economic change and development. And I took the southeast region because it was one of the most bureaucratic ridden. Practically all the mining resources were under the forest service. The fisheries were under the Fish & Wildlife Service and then the Bureau of Land Management picked up the rest of it. So then the people, the Indians were all under Bureau of Indian Affairs. In those days they were a minority, but they are a very large minority, as you know.

So that representing – by studying those bureaucracies each one was totally different. Totally different in the way they were structured, in what their ideology was. The forest service wore Smoky the Bear uniforms you know. On the other hand they were the most decentralized. The regional forest was the one where the buck stopped. The Fish and Wildlife service they had agents in the field but everything was done in Washington, DC. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was organized on the basis of well most of their employees were former schoolteachers and their whole objective was to keep the Natives on the other side of the counter. I remember the first Indian employees were brought in they were struck up in the (inaudible) of store front office so they would be out of sight.

So you had these different type bureaucracies all working at counter to each other. And so I couldn’t generalize on that. Actually I questioned it. I think the Forest Service were the best organized because they were organized on military grounds. Also Gilford Pinchot was a saint. He knew what he was doing. He organized the whole resource thing with the working circle concept which was you look at the resource that this – at the hub there would be a community and this would be harvested so that by the time you finished the circle the new growth had come in so there would be a perpetual source of support for that hub. That’s the ideal and you did – had to do primary processing within the region. You couldn’t export logs. Exceptions were made later and – but it had an objective. You looked at the forest resource, it’s an old growth forest, which means that it is a mix of stands and so in order to really get at the good timber you couldn’t harvest it, you had to have a pulp mill which would use anything. That cleared it up and then you could harvest – you could afford to harvest the timber. At least that was the theory.

Terence: Yeah, well you know if – what was the role of Heintzleman, I mean did you run into – you must have run into Frank Heintzleman in the early years too?

George: Oh, yes, yes.

Terence: So was he the regional Forest Service?

George: He was the regional Forest Service long before we came he was there. I am sure he was appointed by the governor of Alaska by the other Republicans. Well Frank was a career man. He was highly ethical in everything he did. I have nothing but greatest respect for him, but he did everything by the book, which drove me crazy sometimes when I had worked for him. But he was a very principled man and he was dedicated to the beliefs of Gilford Pinchot and brought the tablets down from heaven. But yes I had nothing but respect for Frank.

Terence: George, how would you – is it fair and I was going to ask Bob D’Armand this too – is it fair to say that he was you know opposed to statehood given on the idea that the proponents of statehood of course wanted it right away and that he was one of the guys I think you said not now kind of thing, which is what a lot of the opponents said, but –

George: Yes.

Terence: But was he – so how did he really you know is it fair for the people to say to say he is anti-statehood or?

George: In a way he was – I worked for him briefly for about two or three years. That’s another story, but he said that he was afraid that we couldn’t afford to support statehood. I said I agree with you, but that we are not going to be able to afford statehood until we get it because we don’t have control over our own destiny. So the legislature absolutely everything they did had to be approved by the congress. We couldn’t incur any indebtedness. There were lots of things we couldn’t do and you were in a straight jacket. You had to get rid of that. We had no lands that we could draw upon to get revenues from. So statehood would bring those things in. So I tried to argue with him that statehood would make it possible to afford statehood. He didn’t quite buy that.

For a while there was a commonwealth idea that was circulated. And Puerto Rico was a commonwealth and he said George research this for me. I have some friends who think we should become a commonwealth. So I did. I went to the (inaudible) and they said well what they do Frank is that you have charge – the local people have charge of everything. Defense is provided by the federal government. Everything else and he said well does that mean that the Forest Service would become a local? I said yes. That changed his mind immediately.

Terence: He wasn’t going to trust these guys.

George: No. But of course he was Republican and the Republicans as a whole were anti-statehood. Although during the Constitutional Convention they – very concerned Republicans worked very well on that. That was one of those miraculous pulling together of Alaskans of all opinions and breeds working together and they worked together through this. I was so happy to be part of that process too. It was a wonderful thing.

Terence: George, why would you say – how did that come about – why did it work so well? What were the ingredients?

George: Or the ingredient, first of all, the statehood proponents were looking at the history of how other states came in. Tennessee, what they did – they didn’t wait for congress to act. They wrote a constitution. They elected their delegation to congress, sent the delegation to Washington, DC and demanded that they be seated. And then while congress recovered from this blow, they lobbied individual members of congress and it worked. They got it. So we decided that we would try that and it did work.

We had Ernest Gruening, Ralph Rivers, and Bob Bartlett. And they were all very good. Bob Bartlett was particularly good at politics you know. He was a master politician. Ernest Gruening was a showboated quite a bit and offended some people but nonetheless he was brilliant and when he spoke people listened. He was worth listening to. Ralph Rivers went along with the other two and he was okay. He was a common man out there. He could relate to a lot of people. We had a good delegation, a good mix of types.

Terence: How – what about the convention itself a little bit – why do you think that though worked so well? What role did Egan have to do with that say did he – was that because Borden had him as president?

George: Yeah, he was president and Egan was again he was an unusual politician. He had this phenomenal memory. He would meet you in a crowd and come back 10 years later and say he remembered oh you had kids and how is so and so doing. He could remember these details. He didn’t have somebody prompting him. He was just incredible. When he was governor he would dress up like Santa Claus and go down to the supermarket and greet everybody. Things like this. He was the common man. He had a lot of good common sense and on the whole he was very trustworthy. He was just right for the job. He had his shortcomings too. We all do, but they weren’t – he was not corrupt in any way, just a – that to me is the bottom line with this guy. Real, this guy is honest, and he is ethical and he met all those things.

Terence: And certainly has a well governor later but as head of the convention at first –

George: Yes.

Terence: People thought he was an honest or that he was working – I mean did his role you know was that kind of an important ingredient?

George: Yes, it was.

Terence: Cause if Gruening was running it, say that would have probably would have been such a great idea.

George: No, that would not have worked at all because he would be telling them what they should. When I was working for – with him on that income tax, he would – before I came he would give this speech about the income tax. He would say why we need it. He would say that what – when we had this little meeting when I drafted this thing I said governor just let somebody else introduce it and he did. He picked up two freshmen, legislators, to introduce this thing. Everybody knew he had – it was his bill but he didn’t come up and say – he did recommend that they consider an income tax. He didn’t make a big speech, but he would have been – he would not be suited, he would not be happy in that role.

But Bill was able to let everybody speak their piece and he also knew when bring the – his gavel down and say you’ve had your talk now. Let’s move on to somebody else. He ran a very good show.

Terence: What was your official position with the convention – what did you actually do then, what kind of stuff did you do?

George: I was working for Frank Heintzleman. He just turned me over to them and said do whatever they want. And I did a lot of work on the natural resources provision on the apportionment (inaudible) because I was also – well I didn’t take any formal courses in geography, but I did a lot of reading on that. So I had this little handbook, regional handbook, which I designed, had reproduced for the legislators so they could – most people who were Alaskans only thought of the area in which they lived. Then they went outside. There was no sense of how we fit into this – the rest of Alaska. And bringing these people together because on the basis for the election to the legislature the distance for the judicial district – the Fourth Judicial District, which meant that the dominant city or town in each of the divisions voted everybody in, except for Bill Egan. He was voted from Valdez instead of Anchorage. There were exceptions, but for the most part it was like Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Nome. So this was the first time that the rural population was represented in any body like this. The people from Dillingham. You had a mix of people from the Eskimo community and Frank Baronvich was the vice president and the Tlingits are great orators. They know how to speak formally and he was – he added dignity to the whole proceeding.

So that was bringing together Alaskans that had never had a voice before. That’s what made it so remarkable.

Terence: And too, like you say, those judicial divisions are completely artificial.

George: Oh, they were.

Terence: And had no bearing really on the real geography of Alaska did they?

George: No. They were laid out that the federal judge could make the whole circuit within the season. And it was based upon what sort of transportation he could – dog teams, rivers, and that sort of thing. So it had no relation to what they were embraced in there. During the convention when I worked on the apportionment, we broke it down. We used census divisions as our building blocks because they were defined in terms of interaction and put them together as geographic boundaries are very clear. The mountain ranges and so on and so we worked out different districts of the judicial divisions. I think we had some sense of the judicial division still being there that people wouldn’t object to wiping them out entirely. But you didn’t all come – you came from your own local district.

Terence: Which is so – I mean similar to the people worrying about this divide today between the urban areas and the rural areas.

George: Oh, yes.

Terence: But that’s the way it was too before I mean in territorial days the way the legislature was set off like you say, dominated by people from – I mean half the votes came from Fairbanks and Nome so you know so.

George: Exactly.

George: We purify our water with a lot of chorine in it or something.

Terence: I have arsenic in my well.

George: Oh, well you’re tough, you can.

Terence: No, no.

Terence: Taxes I mean.

George: Yeah.

Terence: And then all of a sudden the war comes and mining is over and so in the long range that’s the main reason why I think that the gold mining didn’t, I mean that’s why I guess the accident of the timing that it didn’t pay very much and that fishing continued on for at least a little bit longer, but you know not during the war and stuff too. But so I guess these reports you would have looked at these.

George: Yes, yes, I did. And then I put them aside and said this is not very helpful. This shows what a mess we have and took a clean slate. Of course the gold mining was shut down during the war and when they went and reopened the price of gold was pegged and the cost of mining was up. And mining requires a slave labor workforce and we had attacked before the war – I mean they had a good source. They went from the what used to be Yugoslavia and Serbia and some of the Balkan States and brought them – I think straight from the old country. They were indentured servants. They had to work a certain number of years to pay back their attachment. Then we had the Dukovich, all the rest of the names here that – particularly in Fairbanks, ended up there. They more or less disappeared now. When we were here there was quite a lot of ex-miners or descendants of miners who were in politics and active in the business community.

Terence: That’s right, yeah, I think you’re right. I think the miners had preponderance –

George: Yes.

Terence: In the legislature, of course that goes back to the thing we’re talking about the divisions too, doesn’t it? I mean –

George: Yes, it does, yes

Terence: I mean the overrepresentation of Fairbanks and Nome in the – you know one thing you said in the book in the southeast Alaska region in transition about the fish trap. We should talk a little bit about why a fish trap as a symbol.

George: Oh, yes, yeah, that’s right. I used that in the first book didn’t I? That’s right. And the reason was that it pulls – this was a very efficient way of harvesting the fish. In fact, in my view it was the only way that salmon should have been harvested because the fish worked out to the runs. You could manage. You knew what was coming and going. You could control the escapement of the fish. You could then control the harvest. You didn’t have to chase mobile gear all over the place. And it was just perfect, but the trouble with the fish trap was that it was owned by the processors, the canners, and they were all outside interests. And they were putting resident fisherman out of work.

It is interesting that when they repealed the – when they outlawed the fish trap, they let the Indians retain their traps. Traditionally Indians used the equivalent of a trap. They built a dam across the river that salmon would school up and when they had what they wanted, they then let the salmon out. Of course the Indians gave this a mythical sort of thing. These were the salmon people. If we didn’t allow some of them to go up, they wouldn’t come back again. So they went up to some never-never land where they became human, took human form. And so they had a sense of this and the fish trap that would be operated the same way. It would corral the fish into the stream. They would all sort out. You knew where they were going. It was ideal for management, but it was the ownership of the traps that made them mad.

The other thing I was interested in that was why this was the management was by the federal government. There was no input from Alaskans in the fish management program in those days. So that gave me sort of a symbol of what Alaska was like under territorial operation.

Terence: Is it fair to say that in the 1950’s people blamed the decline of the salmon runs on the federal mismanagement I mean?

George: Yes, that’s true. There was a good basis for that too. The field people for the most part that I knew managed the rules and a few other people like that were very sincere in trying to manage the fisheries. But when their recommendations were sent to back to Washington, DC representatives of the processors went back there and between them and the bureaucrats back there they determined what the management plan would be, regardless of what the biological research said about the resources. So they over fished and it was because of the federal mismanagement and I say I exempt the people that were working at the field level because they were totally frustrated by this being overridden by somebody who was making a profit from over fishing.

Terence: Okay, so maybe like from there.

George: The fish trap therefore is looked upon by most Alaskans as the dipper with which the large absentee owner appeared to skim with relative ease the cream of one of the regions most valuable natural resources and then carried away to the outside the fullest part of the wealth so guarded. That’s pretty poetic.

The theme of absentee ownership on the means of production and control over natural resources and the intended resident, nonresident conflict and resentment is a classic one inevitable in any area with natural resources to be developed and without local capital adequate to the job. This frequently as rational as it is inevitable for without the outside capital and the intended control of influence with local affairs there would be no development. And it is unlikely that even the alleged half loaf would be available to the residents. But it is nonetheless a real force in regional affairs in southeast Alaska this broad and almost abstract conflict has been given a sharp focus by the existence of a tangible object – the fish trap, which has come to represent the very quintessence of absenteeism.

Terence: Okay, good. And then if we go to this thing. I’m glad you went on there longer. I was enthralled.

George: Until you say stop I –

Terence: No, I was thinking I was glad you did. But now what is (inaudible) anyway?

George: Well that’s a black –

Terence: Black sheep or black –

George: Black –

Terence: Raven a little bit.

Jean: No, that’s a terrible – that’s a beast – black beast.

Terence: Cause George says it is the Betenwah of Alaska.

George: I was showing off that I understand French.

Terence: Now read this part with a French accent.

George: Okay. Fish vah. I had the funniest experience when I was up when in Fairbanks and they had a French TV crew coming in to – we had the Natives sitting around there and talking about the Natives and so on and I got quite animated. So I started talking with my hands and all the French crew all started smiling. They didn’t know what I was saying but they knew what I was – okay.

Okay. The traps had long been the principal Betenwah of Alaskan political demonology. The anti trap case has been emotionally elaborated and distorted to the point where even Alaskans who had never seen one really would readily brand them as fish killers. And at times would seem to look upon them as a very embodiment of the evil in this world. The story of the repeated efforts of Alaskans through their territorial legislature and territorial delegate to congress to have fish traps abolished as illegal gear or to equalize the alleged private and social costs through a differential taxation may not be decided here. The measurement of the popular sentiment regarding this controversial gear was taken by a referendum at the 1948 general election, which resulted in a territorial wide vote of 19,712 to 2,624 for trap abolition. The ratio of almost eight to one.

Terence: That’s good, yeah.

George: Betenwah.

Terence: Yeah, we got the Betenwah. That’s good, yeah. Because yeah I wanted you to show off your French, George.

George: Well thank you.

George: French. I couldn’t get a Parisian to understand what I said so that is why Jean along and she would tell the cab driver what I was trying to say.

Terence: Well I think you make a great case in there about and also in the future of Alaska economic consequences of statehood on the resident, nonresident –

George: Yes.

Terence: Battle and so the fish traps had really been the symbol of the nonresident –

George: It was yes. Their – if they weren’t there my father could be fishing and that money would come to us not somebody back there. The trap was impersonal. It caught the fish and they referred as fish killers, well the fishermen were too, but it was a little bit rubbed off on them and they got a little bit of money from us, but the trap was too automatic.

Terence: And it’s the efficiency I know that’s the issue at least that some people sort of have, but like you said the ownership is the key thing, right?

George: That’s right. That’s it.

Terence: I mean if the ownership – if the means of ownership had been changed –

George: Uh-huh.

Terence: It would have been different now. Is there is a chance that – why don’t we treat fish the way we treat oil? Have you ever thought about that and why?

George: Fish is a renewable resource. It can at least in theory be completely reproduced itself. Oil cannot. Oil goes out, it is gone. And you’re left with a hole in the ground and a bunch of diluted soil. But there is quite a bit of difference between the two. You can’t treat them both.

Terence: Well I mean in the sense that the Alaska’s share –

Terence: So George, so when did you first run into Ted Stevens, do you remember?

George: I don’t remember the first time. I remember when he was working with the federal government. I remember when he came to the first Science Conference that Vic Fisher set up for nonbiological sciences and he gave a rousing speech, which really raled me up, but he said we don’t need you outsiders to tell us how to run Alaska. So I got up and apologized for that – our Senator’s outburst. But he was – I got a lot of respect for him. He is one of Alaska’s natural resources. He gets things done for us. And he brings a lot into the state. And he – as I say, but he is a feisty little guy.

Terence: Yeah, that’s right. The – oh when he gave the speech he was already senator then at that time, right?

George: Yeah.

Terence: But you didn’t really run him back when he was with Interior or do you remember?

George: I remember him. I didn’t meet him but I remember seeing him then and he was very, very studious and very quiet.

Terence: And determined?

George: Determined, yes.

Terence: Did you, so and the Secretaries of Interior that you dealt with mostly were well I guess who was Secretary of Interior in ’45? I guess, I mean in your early days it would have been Crew.

George: Crew, yeah I think. Yeah, right after Icchy. Icchy was still Secretary I think when we first came up and then Crew came a little bit later. And he was a sort of a bolt out of the blue because he was reorganizing things. And as I say he set up the idea of the field committee breaking down of the United States into natural regions, river basins actually they were, that he used as his things. And I thought it was a very intelligent approach to this.

Terence: Did that ever work though in Alaska? I mean did that actually –

George: Oh, yeah.

Terence: Come to bear with the interior appropriations for the –

George: Yes, yes. And I say what we did that was the first cut on the appropriation, then they went back to Washington, DC and the various regional units with Bureau of Reclamation – were put together as per the bill. The Bureau of Reclamation was the only one that objected to this and they were the least cooperative when I was field committee chairman. The other one was the general manager of the Alaska Railroad. He had reason to be because he had to leave in the dark of the night. He went down to South America.

Terence: Which one was that?

George: Oh, that was Colonel Johnson. Colonel Olson was –

Terence: Yeah Johnson followed Olson.

George: Yeah, right.

Terence: Well why did he, I didn’t know that story?

George: Well, Felnowsky could fill you in on that cause he kept finding things about he would use railroad property, like barges and things and let his friends use this and then he had the friends pay his sister. You know those sort of things, which you don’t do. But he had done – he had worked on the railroad that went through Persia to Russia into the Gulf. And he got used to dealing with this sort of morality and when I went to see him in his office he had all the trophies that he had collected in Persia. Beautiful rugs and vases and things. Here comes Tom again.

Terence: Okay. So George this is a hypothetical question that I have come up with. What about Alaska if it hadn’t become a state and what about Gruening? You were going to say something about.

George: Oh, about Gruening. Which one do you want first, Gruening?

Terence: Yeah.

George: Well when I went to work for Gruening it was with the understanding I would work for just three years to get the revenue program underway. I did other jobs too, odd jobs you know. Like the Mafia hires a hit man that’s the sort of thing I did. No, I didn’t, but basically he said to me George what are you going to do after this? I said I’m going back to Berkeley to get my doctorate. He said don’t do that. I’ll give you a recommendation to Harvard. They have a program of the Littower Foundation has a program that you could use. So I said okay. I’ll switch. I can go – where do you go from Berkeley, you go to Harvard. That’s pretty good. Then I went from Harvard to Cambridge, England and the Sorbohn too. That’s another story.

But the thing is that he did, but he didn’t want me go when the time came. And he was very reluctant to let me go. He said there is a lot of work here. I said well I’ll come back. I won’t be very long. And Norway (inaudible) is a five-year stint. But I keep saying I had the thesis written. I had done all the research for the thesis and had it organized so that I knew what I was going to do. It is part of the application. You have to write down why are you doing this? Why do you want to come here? So I wrote a nice essay about what I was trying to work out and they obviously liked it, in addition to the recommendation from the governor and I got one year. And then I figured then I’d have to dig for money, but without my realizing it they renewed my fellowship and increased the stipend. So they said we want you to finish your – get your dissertation done and written. We are interested to see that. So I lucked out on that one too.

Terence: So you did your whole Ph.D. in two years?

George: Yes, yes. Again I used things that I had done in the meantime. I never throw anything away in my career. I just pick up and find a use for it and that is what I did. And it was mostly a matter of writing. I had to take a certain amount of resident courses and I took political science at the graduate level rather than undergraduate and I’m glad I did that because that was interesting. I got what they call a joint degree and it was called Doctor of Political Economy. And in Cambridge, England they don’t have economics they have political economy because they look upon economics not as a stand-alone science but as a means of managing things which makes a lot more sense.

Terence: But was that – so were you at Cambridge after Harvard?

George: Yes, I was invited back. After I wrote these two books as a matter of fact. These books – the only fan mail I got was from Australia, from Canada, and from Cambridge.

Jean: Michigan.

George: Michigan too, yes. I forgot about Michigan. So that it was something that appealed – this country we are very ignorant about geography. There are schools that teach geography. They didn’t have a geography course at Berkeley when I went there. They did have one up at Fairbanks though. My oldest daughter took geography at one of the – took a double major at Fairbanks geography and accounting. She wanted to go into planning. That’s another story too.

But the – so I did get very good response from overseas. From the UK, from I say Australia, Canada, and other places. I didn’t – I don’t – so Michigan is the only place that picked up on my books.

Terence: What – you mean somebody wrote in –

George: Wrote in, yes, that sort of thing. And thanked me for this. Also my books also were the first ones that resources – fish got any revenue back on the fact. They went into second printing books and they paid back all the money they paid me on the fellowship that they had given me, so made out on that one too.

Terence: Oh, yeah. Well what about this idea that if we hadn’t become a state, what would – how would events progressed differently – I mean what would be Alaska today be like, I mean, I guess the question maybe would you have been here if that statehood hadn’t come in – could you have been back here or something – what –

George: I don’t know how that would have happened because statehood – we still had less population than we have right now for example. And there was not much growth. Alaska would have been exploited. The oil industry would have taken what they wanted without paying for it or very low fee. Greg Erickson, who called me a little while ago was a young economist and at one of our science conferences wrote a paper which said that Alaska almost gave away the Prudhoe Bay thing. And he pointed out that the Department of Natural Resources in Alaska didn’t know how to compute – how to calculate future income from a resource that hadn’t been developed yet, which is true. They said we can recoup that by taxation. But I forgot where I was going with this little digression, but it was –

Terence: If Alaska hadn’t become a state –

George: If Alaska hadn’t become a state, the oil industry would have just come in and negotiated with the federal government with their buddies and they would have got a much better deal than they had here. They wouldn’t have to worry about taxation. They wouldn’t have an income tax on their earnings. They would have cut a better deal on the royalties and their leases. I doubt whether the Natives would have gotten anything out of this. Statehood did provide because they were citizens. They got a better status that many indigenous peoples under a territory. So I think it was beneficial. It created – well my dissertation at Harvard was the creating of an American polity. My faculty advisor suggested that title politic brings in the Aristotle and all the rest of it. But the idea that we created a government up here, a community up here, rather than just leaving it just a place you came up like a warehouse and took things out as you needed them, which is what we would have been.

Terence: It would still have been a warehouse basically?

George: Yes. It would have been a warehouse just drew things from. And there would have been some management in the interest of keeping the goods on the shelves, but it wouldn’t have been a political entity.

Terence: Well I think I wonder if because I – I mean this is just a theory and I – when I started thinking about this I thought well if we hadn’t got statehood in 1959 and it had been delayed even to 1969. Let’s say until after the oil discovery.

George: Yes.

Terence: I think it is extraordinarily unlikely (a) there would have ever been a state.

George: That’s (inaudible).

Terence: And it probably wouldn’t have been certainly the unrecognizable to what we know now because I don’t know if you agree with this, but it seems to me that the state is an artifact of the 1950’s. I mean it is a development machine.

George: Machine, that’s right. And as I say, said earlier, Phil Holtz and I were working at the Constitution Convention and he says, George, it is a good thing we’re doing – we’re writing this article now when the oil industry comes on the scene, they’d we writing the article. I think that would have been true.

Terence: Because at the time – that’s one good thing about the beauty because the convention came before the oil industry, really, I mean, before even the Swanson River.

George: That’s right.

Terence: It’s a year before, so.

George: When I was working for Standard Oil Company in the 1930’s the oil companies knew about the oil at Prudhoe Bay and I spoke to my boss about this. Why aren’t we developing that? He says George that is like having – saying that there is oil on the moon. We don’t know how to get it out of there. The seas would be frozen. The sea is too shallow for a tanker to come in to shore, which we discovered. I don’t know why they didn’t know that in the first place before they had that tanker come around and anchored miles offshore. They said it is there. We know it’s there and then we know that it is very rich. The Navy withdrew, but they always do when there is some new discovery, withdrew their reserves, but again that was just to be in case of an emergency. We’ll figure out how to get it out later.

What they were looking at that time when I was working for them was down at Cold Bay on the peninsula. But then they decided to go to Barrain Island in the gulf. The oil industry goes wherever they can figure out which is the best deal. So they abandoned Alaska and I might have come to Alaska earlier if it hadn’t been for the opportunity to get in with the Venetian Texas interests in the Barrain Island. In fact they said if you’re interested in going there George this would be a wonderful opportunity. I had done some reading before on that. I didn’t want to go. It was a tribal society, which would have been the worse tribal society to step into, as we’re discovering now. They have all these sheiks running around with their own little bodyguards and people shooting people.

Terence: Yeah, that’s certainly one I mean talk about the – I guess that is one thing still Alaska offers to the oil companies that they don’t have the stability.

George: That’s right.

Terence: I mean, but I think that if that idea about the convention that’s an important one isn’t it?

George: Yes.

Terence: I mean the timing was fortuitous.

George: It was.

Terence: On the various timing is before there is lots of money on the table isn’t it?

George: Yes.

Terence: I mean the oil, even in the Swanson River strike has not yet occurred, so after that occurred it could get very messy?

George: Well it could have been. The other interesting thing about, not everybody at the convention was in favor of Alaska becoming a state but they went along with this idea because it was an opportunity to examine what was possible here and I got some very interesting feedback from some very conservative people on that. That was what that whole experience was just marvelous.

Terence: Were you in Fairbanks for most of the –

George: Yes, I was here for the whole time, yes.

Terence: So did you get sort of an office there in the (inaudible) building or where did you –

George: Well actually the first month Tom Stewart had what they thought was a heart attack and Egan and Brovonovich appointed me to take over as acting secretary while he was gone. So it turned out it was just overworked himself to the point of collapse and then he was in good shape to finish up with his term but so I had part of the organization of it, the household things. The liaison with the military about providing color guard to come and open the sessions and things. I knew just exactly who to appoint to do that for me. I didn’t do it. Kept them out of my hair, but you pick out the ones that are going to be a nuisance and give them jobs to do and they are just delighted. When Tom came over it was all the nitty gritty stuff was put together, then the thing really went it and the second month is when things got done.

So I had that part but then I was also working – I had a little office and a bigger office when I was acting secretary. Little office with desk and a calculator.

Terence: Right in the building there?

George: Yeah, right there.

Terence: What was Tom’s role sort in that? How important was he?

George: He was very important in the first place in getting the whole thing going cause fair amount Tom Stewart. He had originally he was having been in the war he was looking for a way to eternal peace and he thought – he took up Russian studies. And then he abandoned them when he realized that he was dealing with more than he could handle taking on the Soviet Union. And he came back and he decided to push for statehood and other stuff too.

Terence: And (inaudible) you know. So there was such a and I never thought about this until a couple of months ago.

George: Something about that (inaudible) but you’re right. The environmental group and that’s like they have in Canada, that’s right.

Terence: You want soverignment, do you want government control?

George: Government control.

Terence: You were telling me about more indebtedness, they owed more money than there has ever been money you know.

Terence: Well George we were talking about Tom Stewart I think and the convention. I think that is where we.

George: Yeah. Tom is the one who sort of went into local and territorial politics in order to promote statehood and he did it very systematically and very thorough and he worked very hard on this. He worked up the idea of the convention. He also worked up the idea on staffing it and bringing in a consulting firm that was top flight to tell us. He was determined to have what he considered to be a model constitution. We could learn from what mistakes had been made in the past. So he had devoted a lot of his time to that. When he was in the legislature he worked very hard to get the legislation for the convention, the appropriations, all those sort of things. And it was almost a single-handed job. He did it.

And I say this is what I think the fact that he was overworked. And then when he came to the convention and he was expected to be appointed to the secretary there were a couple of people stepped forward and set themselves up as candidates for this and for a while he thought he might lose out at the last moment, but that didn’t happen. He had that anxiety too.

But he did a terrific job on putting the convention together and this sort of thing was just overexertion. The doctor said to him he said you don’t have a heart attack. He described like there were iron bands across my chest. I couldn’t breathe. And he said what you should do is marry Jane. Jane Stewart he was sort of courting her and so he proposed to marry her and he came back and was a whole man.

Terence: Well that’s great.

George: That is. Then he was able to roll up his sleeves and really do – he didn’t have these anxieties any longer. He had recuperated from the stress of putting the thing together.

Terence: Would you – is it fair to say that he sort of – I don’t know, was the convention his idea in a way?

George: Yes, it was. He came in with this idea. It was tied in again as I say with the Tennessee Plan and I wasn’t in on the genesis of that, but Tom was there and it was one that Ernest Gruening may have even suggested. Bob Atwood in those days was in line with Ernest Gruening on this idea of statement. Atwood and Gruening were at that point relatively good friends. They then split a little bit later on party lines. But that was developing in the last we came. There was no two party system. You were either pro or anti-Gruening and yet some of his more severe enemies were Democrats actually. And again it was because he had this Harvard accent approach to things.

Terence: Do you think – is it fair to say how many people were anti-Gruening and pro-statehood? I mean were there people in that case or personally didn’t like him or you know.

George: Well, it’s very hard to say because you can’t get a real statistical measure on that. But there was – it was quite confusing wasn’t it Jean?

Jean: Oh, yes.

George: And if you opened your mouth you weren’t sure who you were talking to, unless you knew who you were talking to, you didn’t bring the subject up. It was –

Terence: People always assume that you were Gruening’s protégé?

George: Oh yes, yes. That’s right. I was one of his fair hand boys, but it was a very interesting relationship, but it gave me a wonderful opportunity to be in on the grounding of these things and then as Klosnowsky said, you should write about cause you were there like on the Tour (inaudible), thing like that. I worked on the formulation of the optimum yield rather than sustain, biological yield. A lot of ideas that – some of them didn’t fly of course, attempts to break through on management.

Terence: Right. George, how about is the Permanent Fund, maybe you can say a word too about that from your experience with it and this sort of issue? Would there be a Permanent Fund if there wasn’t a state, I mean?

George: Well there would be no need for it because it was primary thing of revenue for the state. The state needed the natural resources economics, as well as special corner of the economic studies and there you look at a resource, renewable resources is one that you grow it back again – fisheries, forest, and so on and that sort of thing.

And minerals, petroleum, that sort of thing is a wasting resource. When you dig it out, you get rid of it, it is gone. It doesn’t reproduce itself. But if you look upon it when you sell the resource, not as income but rather a changing of the resource, a crude oil in the ground or metal to a resource cash that you invest and then the income from the investment becomes your income. And of course that is the basic underlying theory of a Permanent Fund, although it got all screwed up with other things like rainy day fund and a lot of other things, but as a economist I looked upon it as that it gave petroleum a life after death. And in theory at least if you knew how to manage your money it could go on in a permanent way. It became a permanent asset rather than a wasting asset. That’s the basic difference between a renewable and a wasting asset.

Terence: But without statehood status of course there would have been no entity to –

George: That’s right and no reason because it would then be the federal government would be just disposing of part of the public domain. And I don’t see that there would be a reason for having a Permanent Fund.

Terence: Well now some people sort of allege or like to believe that Alaska is a colony today and could you – how would – how does it you know –

George: The term colony is a very tricky thing. You could say that the West today is a colony of the continent – of the rest of the United States and would be only partly true. A true colony is one in which the indigenous people had no say in what is being done to them and to their land.

In Alaska that’s not true. We have a lot to say, particularly with statehood. And I think that statehood sort of lifted us from the colonial status because we had rights, we had things that we could enforce, we could control our own destiny. A true colony was one which you simply go in and I use the idea of warehouse, pull it out, forget about the people who were there. They don’t count. They are just part of the wallpaper, but Alaska was never that sort of colony.

Under Russian rule, under the initial US rule, it was probably true because the indigenous peoples base of survival was wiped out or seriously damaged by the harvesting of salmon for example. It wasn’t until the White Act was passed – I think it was 1923 that the salmon resource was managed on the basis of its going to its source and coming back again, otherwise it was simply treated like a wasting resource, which it was. It was mined in other words, not harvested.

Terence: Right. And that is a crucial difference isn’t it?

George: Yes, it is.

Terence: If you – well if there is a case, maybe we could talk about the in your book in the Future of Alaska the economic consequences of statehood, the economic consequences – what – could you summarize those? What were they?

George: Well partner was the fact of transporting some of this Alaska became a sovereign state delegating its sovereignty to the US congress in the federal government just any other state. So that changed that whole status so we had an entity which was more powerful and more – we were in control of our destiny or could be.

The other thing is that we also got our land grant and other things that we didn’t have as a territory. So we owned a natural resources state also that became part of our becoming. The economic consequences were control of our own destiny and then also having resources that we could manage and produce a means of supporting our whole institution, political institutions, social institutions.

So it was – that’s what the basic economic consequences. Without it what we were talking if Alaska were not a state would be an empty place. We would have lost the opportunity of creating which was part of the theory of the western progression, rebuilding – I mean building political as I said polities my thesis in this virgin territory, which were –

Terence: Developed. Well one thing that it is clear that Prudhoe Bay is one of the economic consequences of statehood?

George: Oh, yes, yes, particularly say with Phillips Holstress insisting that we select those lands. If he hadn’t selected them they would have been just like any other federal lands in any other state. You’d get a share of the royalties, but you wouldn’t get the whole thing.

Terence: You would get a share of the federal take eventually.

George: That’s exactly that.

Terence: Which is what we would get on federal lands.

George: Yes.

Terence: You know with the but not the you know –

George: That is what Alaskans don’t see that. Yes, we have more fields, maybe not any more Prudhoe Bay’s, but we have some very substantial fields that have possible but they are on federal lands. We don’t own them. We owned Prudhoe Bay.

Terence: Yeah. And I think that the idea, well you had spelled it out in there pretty clearly that this – that some people questioned why there had been such a rush to have a state, given the fact that the economic picture was pretty dyer in some ways. I mean you know it was anticipatory wasn’t it? I mean I guess statehood was based on the assumption that things were going to grow.

George: Uh-huh.

Terence: And it did but I guess not quite in the way that anybody predicted. I mean nobody could have ever predicted something as rich as Prudhoe Bay, I don’t think really.

George: No. The – what happened there of course was that times have changed. I brought up the 1937 National Resources Committee report and then the successor to that committee’s report, I think it was during the tail end of the war, in which they said Alaska had to be developed and settled in the interest of national defense, which was kind of a strange way of saying okay we’ll put people out there and then we will have to save those people. It has probably been used in a big society when they sent out a village, created a new polity and (inaudible).

But so it was that the change in the rules. Right after World War II we were set to strip Japan of any major industry. And then so much put their bulwark against the spread of communism. So then we turned handsprings and invited them to come in and develop our timber, gave them subsidiaries, and all sorts of things. You ended up by having a colony of Japan and Sitka, where you had technicians and managers living in this little enclave up by a beautiful lake, Japanese lake, provided a beautiful place for their people to live.

And so you had that sort of thing happening. It is a flip-flop and it was a local political considerations that created the change in our view of what Alaska should be. It no longer, I said that earlier, a warehouse, but a place where people – Americans could come to develop and create a community.

Terence: Right. I mean that’s interesting isn’t it about the federal investment was always big, but it became so huge during the war and then sort of a – develop Alaska as a national security issue, right?

George: Yes.

Terence: Yeah. Well I just have one or two more things and I don’t run you into the ground here, but we are also going to talk to George Sonborg. I don’t know in a couple of weeks I guess.

George: Uh-huh.

Terence: So you ran into George I guess.

George: Oh, yes, yes.

Terence: On the development board I guess, right?

George: Yeah.

Terence: So was he there at the same time, that was about –

George: We overlapped. He actually was actually Gruening’s fair head boy and I won’t go any further than saying that, but I always thought he was second string, but that’s okay. But George was – he was picked up by Ernest early on because Ernest Gruening loved journalism and George was a journalist. And he wrote some books. One was singing the praise of Alaska – Coming to Alaska, yes. I was horrified by that book because it didn’t point out that people who read that as a bible really got burned because he didn’t stress the hardships. He didn’t stress the insecurities. After the war a group of veterans went to Port Chilkott, Fort Seward and set up this utopian society and they told me the one said they used George Sonborg’s book was their bible. Well the thing fell apart as all utopian societies do because there are all chiefs and no Indians. And it ended by the few survivors dividing up the property and then going their separate ways. But that was a very interesting experience to follow that history.

But Ernest Gruening had me talk to the – just before I went back to Harvard to representatives. They were people like architects and things like that. They were people who used their hands to build architecture, these architects. They were all designers. But it was sad though because they had this beautiful view of creating like Tom Stewart studying Russian so he could deal with the Russians and realizing that that’s more complicated than I thought it was. As until another Russia was rediscovered (inaudible) the Soviet Union.

Terence: Well you know I think in you know George Sonborg’s book that’s like Gruening’s view though too wasn’t it?

George: Yeah.

Terence: Propagandist. I don’t know what the right word is, but this sort of rosy you know hue of how you know if only.

George: Yeah.

Terence: If only this happens, things would be great you know, having.

George: Ernest Gruening’s book The State of Alaska was a great book, but it is mostly propaganda, but it had a lot of scholarship in it. You probably thought the same thing. Instead of looking at the –

George: But there was a reason for the (inaudible). It was pretty much a peripheral place. It didn’t deserve any more attention than it got probably.

Terence: Well you know George it is interesting you mention the thing about the moon the Standard Oil People.

George: Oh, yeah.

Terence: Because I wrote this thing once I said there was lunatics school of Alaska in our own history.

George: Oh, yeah.

Terence: A lunatics school is you know is like the moon. It’s cold. It’s far away. It’s expensive to get there and there are other places that are not quite so cold, ar away, or expensive to get there, so. But did Gruening – did you ever get any comments from him on this book?

George: No, no. (Inaudible) hadn’t been written. He wasn’t against it. He just didn’t enthused about it the way he did over George Sonborg’s books, but that’s okay. I got a lot of good response from this.

Terence: Well I’m not at all surprised about that George because that is the kind of thing that he would think was just a bucket of cold water.

George: Yeah.

Terence: And that because as you say in there a lot of people questioning what are we going to do now? Now we got this land and stuff and what are we going to do? You know what are we going to do? So I think you raised some very valid questions in your book. The idea of the fiscal gap that Scott Poulsman talks about you know. It is present there too. It’s there, so. But I think if – let’s see I guess you know Tim’s dad, we’re actually going to talk to BG Olson about the press and stuff.

George: Yeah.

Terence: It’s sort of in statehood. Did you run into him at all or I don’t know if you want to make any comment on that or the newspapers? I guess he was running a paper here in Juneau at the time, BG Olson.

George: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Terence: I forget which one now, but did you know Independent, is that right?

George: I didn’t know Independent and George Sonluck was involved in that at one point too. It was one of those trying to be a conqueror offset to the Juneau Empire, but it never got enough financial support and it was – the people who were doing it frequently were not up to doing it as real work was involved in making the point of concern. You had to be really dedicated to do that sort of thing. You just don’t start doing it.

Terence: Especially when you’re going against the established paper. I mean it is –

George: Right. Uh-huh.

Terence: Is there any more difficult thing than doing that you know.

George: Yeah.

Terence: And (inaudible) in each other. What about when at the University George let’s just say a little – you work at the University right or with or how did that work with the institute and stuff?

George: Okay. Hans Jansen was one of the – he was the economics department at the time of the Danish young man, a very good friend of ours, but one – my first book came out he read this and he convinced the University that they should have me come up as a visiting Carnegie Fellow and Carnegie thing. The Carnegies wanted to do something for the University and I suggested that they do them a grant so that the professors the fact that they can go outside and get renewed some place, but they said oh, no, we’ll invite top-flight scholars and so they come up here. Well they couldn’t get anybody to come except me.

When I was up there it was right after statehood and the legislature directed me and the University to set up an institute of both business and economic research. So they turned to me and said would you do that? I said sure. So I designed this thing and for a while I ran it by myself. And I transferred the grant that I had from Resources for the Future with their approval to the University. And so we set up a pattern that I would bring in research money for my own research, they would take their overhead which was like 40 percent of what I brought in and I would be a faculty member.

And – but the institute had to be expanded so they gave me permission to recruit so I recruited Arnold Tussick. You may remember Arnold. Well when I met him down at the Seattle Airport right away I said Arnold you and I could be partners in this. We’ll divide the work between us. You know I’ve had background with oil but I’m interested in renewable resources. I’ll give you the nonrenewable resources, I’ll take the renewable ones. You did some wonderful work in Japan. I read his (inaudible) dissertation which was – he had – he read that and it was interesting. He had taken the major restoration came in. They transformed Japan overnight to a western. Well they just took off their kimonos and put on pinstriped suits and put their Samari swords aside and carried briefcases. That sort of transformation. They were still on their knees, medieval types, but they made a detailed census of everybody in Japan, broken down into all categories. They – Arnold said they had a category for prostitutes, male and female even and things like that.

And so he took a province and took that census and then later on I think about 50 years later they took another census. So he compared the two census reports and showed the transition that took place. He said it was astounding to see how things were classified differently. He wrote his dissertation on this. I was surprised it was never published, but Arnold was given to losing interest in something that he has finally done. He said that’s it.

And, but he spent – he was very fluent in Japanese, which is a difficult language to learn. He spent part of his time in joining a monastery in Japan and spent a year in the monastery. Just an incredible guy, but he was a very strange guy. You knew him. And but he and I did go on to get a partnership. We each respected the other, what they could do. And when Arnold used any of my ideas the footnote gave me credit for the idea. He didn’t, but then when Vic came in with this Ford Foundation Grant, then it blew it all out of proportion. It became a monster thing.

Terence: It did, yeah. So what was his deal. Vic’s thing was the board was that through Wood got that or – Wood was –

George: Oh, no Vic got it himself.

Terence: Oh, he did, okay.

George: He knew. I’m trying to think of the guy’s name, one of the Ford Foundation people. Vic was the Federal Housing Administration in Washington, DC. He wanted to get back to Alaska. And so he came back with a Ford Foundation Grant resources for the future grant. No, no, his was a Ford Foundation. Mine was Resources for the Future which was once removed from the Ford Foundation. For setting up for expanding the institute and that was Vic’s ticket back and mine was having a grant, which I then turned over and then set up this arrangement.

Terence: Did you leave after Vic came back or –

George: No, no. I continued. As a matter of fact the Ford Foundation people came down and asked me if I would be the director. I said, no, this is Vic’s show. Besides I don’t want to be a director. I’m the research person. I want to continue research. So they said okay. And so Vic, his job was to get money. My job was on the small scale to get money (inaudible) research. But most part of the research is done with grants from the Forest Service, from the Fisheries people and that was my career.

Terence: So you did Fish and Forest more didn’t you?

George: Yes.

Terence: And then Arnold –

George: Arnold was –

Terence: Oil and stuff.

George: Oil and stuff, yeah.

Terence: But anyhow, I think that so when, what actual years did you retire from the University, cause you actually were on the University – essentially.

George: Right, I was. Yes I retired at full retirement. I became an adjunct officio which was I would be paid when I worked on a piece basis, but that was in 1983. I just looked it up.

Terence: So you stayed on til then, I mean, or as adjunct?

George: Yeah, I went on for a few and then I sort of petered out. They gave me an emeritus status, which was an honorary status as you know.

Terence: You know another person we’re going to talk to eventually I don’t know if you have any comments on him is Keith Miller, his tenure as governor. I don’t know if –

George: That was kind of a vacant spot in my memory. Keith was governor and he didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t do anything spectacular. It was a fairly brief tenure and –

Terence: I think it was two years.

George: Two years, yes. It was not a full term. As I say he didn’t do anything wrong or anything outrageous. He didn’t rock the boat.

Terence: Right. Well let’s see one – actually we’re going to try to also talk to Jim Walsh. He’s one of the sons of Mike Walsh.

George: Oh, yes, Mike Walsh.

Terence: So do you remember Mike?

George: Oh, very much so.

Terence: What was he like?

George: Well he was a diamond in the rough type. He was a wonderful guy. And I really enjoyed association with him. He was – but as I say a diamond in the rough. He was able to discuss things on a fairly philosophical level even though he wasn’t necessarily – I don’t know whether he had a college degree or not. I don’t think he did. He was just straight common guy, but had a lot of intelligence, a lot of good common sense and I considered him a very moral person too.

Terence: Yeah, I think everybody liked him.

George: Yes.

Terence: He was on the regents and then he also was a delegate and stuff, so. Any of those other delegates stand out to you that you felt were sharper? I guess there was one – who was the guy who voted – who didn’t vote for the –

George: Robertson.

Terence: Yeah, right. Arrie Roberts, right.

George: But he did then later on came back in. He was a very conservative Republican. He did a lot of good work at the convention but then at the final day there were certain things in which he just couldn’t quite accept. He did accept them later on though, after things got going. But that was kind of – I was quite surprised at that because he – while I was there he was contributing to the process, but he was as I say he was a conservative first and then again one of those people that worked with us, us liberals.

Terence: Well did you think, George, talk for a second just a natural resources article.

George: Yeah.

Terence: What’s unique about that?

George: There is nothing really unique about it, except that there was no special privilege built into it, which most natural resources articles have some special interest (inaudible) into and as far as I know there is nothing built into that. And I credit Phil Holsworth with that cause he knew who he was dealing with. He was in mining professionally, but he was looking at something beyond that. He was not a petroleum man but he also knew and of course I knew from my experience with five and a half years with petroleum industry how they operated and he was always for the general good but of course it benefited us too. I think so.

Terence: Sure. Okay. I think –

Terence: So it was that moral the idealistic part of it.
Terence: So let’s just say that again George and look over towards me and then you won’t be on the camera, but that’s okay. So you’d say how did it change with the – for the first five years?
George: I said roughly. The big change came when we got the big money from the oil – Prudhoe Bay and it just all of a sudden things started changing. We lost our idealism. We lost the idea that we were working together, conservatists, liberals, everybody, creating a beautiful state and it became money grubbing on the natural element. You had the greed taking over in the 1990’s. You saw what happened to accounting. That sacred thing that I started with is no longer sacred. They know how to cook the books and that sort of thing was coming in. There were things like that that came in.
Terence: Now it’s called triple entry bookkeeping.
George: Yes. That’s the sort of thing that really was life of paradise was lost sort of feeling I have
Terence: Because it was a very idealistic –
George: It was a very idealistic thing, it was. I state in the convention that spirit of convention carried over for the first roughly five years in the legislative action.
Terence: Did you think it was important that the convention was held in Fairbanks versus Juneau, did that –
George: Yes, yes because I felt we referred to Fairbanks as the heart remember, the heart of Alaska and that was sort of a symbolic thing was in the center of the land mass. And I think Juneau is ideal for the capitol because the capitol should be a place like in Australia they put it in Cambera in sheep country and in Brazil they put it in the middle of the jungles some place to get it away from the big centers so they could look at the whole thing. But this was just a capitol move.
Terence: But that’s a good reason for the point George because in a way doesn’t the achievement of statehood definitely can see how the oil money soured some people – I mean changed the dynamic, but didn’t the capitol move also do that. The constant proposals to move –
George: Yes. This was one – I credit Bob Atwood for this because he said what do we do now to get – right after the convention; the statement there was sort of a slump. The military was withdrawing. The cold war hadn’t started yet. When the cold war started, everything started churning again. And there was like we are losing and Atwood let’s get the state off dead center. Let’s move the capitol into the Anchorage area where we can really work. And that started but that introduced sectionalism which was a very – that was a very negative thing. And fortunately there were enough people in Anchorage who voted against the move that – we couldn’t have done it by ourselves. We didn’t have friends in Anchorage an area there. But it was constantly being brought up and you had this constant thing are we going to last another few years. And Jean and I just said we’re just going to ride it out. We don’t think this is going to happen. It may happen. It’s being done on a piecemeal basis now of course, but it is a little bit different.

Terence: It doesn’t have quite the tenor of Bob Atwood’s taking the largest newspaper does it?
George: No, it doesn’t.
Terence: And hammering it day after day. But anyway that encouraged me that that’s one issue that was so – that the sectionalism which had always been there was somewhat subdued for the convention.
George: Yes, it was.
Terence: Partly by what you said I think about the apportionment, wasn’t it, that that was so important. So did you work on the apportionment that’s the apportionment article for the elections, is that – did you help?
George: I did work on that too, yes. Then I’ve been on two when they – I was court appointed – what do they call those – trustee to when they – to re-examine the portion that came up politically biased portions. One was Democrat and one was Republican. So I was impartial.
Terence: Did you have you know sort of that, the idea of having it in Fairbanks and on the University campus. Did that sort of help with the tone?
George: Yes it did too because the University was just beginning to feel its growth going there. When I first saw the University it looked like a Siberian penal institution. We had these wooden structures with a water tower which had a (inaudible) was tape playing up on top there and just reminded me of pictures I’ve seen in Siberian of these buildings. And this was this territorial days so they couldn’t go into debt.
The main administration building was a concrete garage – basement with a wooden building on top, which then when they got some money they moved it over to the side and put the superstructure on, just like Alaska building their own home. You couldn’t go into debt. So it was a – and that was such an interesting thing to see that suddenly we can get some money after statehood. I also worked for Alaska Public Works as their financial advisor. That was one that gave all these things – that had a sunset provision then – the Feds poured money into the infrastructure and construction. The University got a big chunk of that and the campus suddenly became a campus, overnight almost. It was an interesting thing to see.
The idea of a University in Alaska was one that appealed to me. Sure you could as one of the (inaudible) you could afford to give an area kid scholarship to any University of his choice and it wouldn’t cost as much as having a University and somehow we needed the University. I still believe that.
Terence: Car – what I was going to say you know President Bunnell always said he didn’t paint the buildings because he wanted the legislature to know that he wasn’t wasting their money, but I mean did you see the University – you must have seen it before Bunnell was still there I guess.
George: ’45 I came up there – came into the main building and I was looking around for – and there was an old man with a push broom pushing and he had overalls on and I said I’m trying to find Dr. Bunnell and he said well he said you go down to the end of the hall there and turn left and that’s his office. So I went down the hall and turned left and here was this janitor sitting behind the desk. I was flabbergasted he said, well he said I’m trying to save money by doing the janitor work you know. But it was that sort of operation.
Terence: It was him with the push broom?
George: Yes, yes, he was doing this but it was incredible. He was a wonderful character and he was no fool either, but he played up that role of being the guy who was not beneath him to take a broom and looks like hell out there. Somebody should clean it up I’ll do that.
Terence: Perfect way of shaming the people who worked for him?
George: It sure is, yeah.
Terence: Because I think that I was did you run into Terrace Moore at all.
George: Oh yes, yes. He was quite different. He was very flamboyant. And he was the one he flew an airplane and he liked to play that up. He was just – his picture on the things looking like (inaudible) bird his head up like this looking to the skies and Bunnell was dressed up with furs looking well a coy. Looking like a banker.
Terence: Who was the banker?

George: Wood.

Terence: Oh Wood, right. Well did you – you didn’t ever live in Fairbanks though did you?
George: Yeah.

Terence: When you were running the institute?

George: Yeah, I was up there. We were there for a year.

Terence: Okay.

George: We came up and we had two – three kids then, four kids.

Terence: Well you’re not far off George only by a factor of what four.

George: That was an interesting experience too, but it was the University in transition. We just got Wickersham Hall that was built for the girls and then we had Chena Ridge was where the students would go and dig a hole in the hill and put a sod roof on it and they’d come in and use the gymnasium to take their showers and do their laundry and it was – but there was a sense of people trying to get an education there in that sort of rough situation, which I liked very much.

Terence: Did you have any contact with Patty, you know?

George: Oh yes, yes.

Terence: During the convention and stuff?

George: Yeah, he was – he was a nice guy. He was – he had a very simple operation. He had the chancellor and he had two deans, Dean of Men and Dean of Women. He said we don’t need any other deans. When Wood came in, he had a half a dozen deans. Everybody in effect had – figured they had a chance to become a dean. So it sort of just completely disorganized the whole faculties.

Terence: George, how come you never became a dean?

George: I wasn’t interested.

Terence: You had more sense.

George: Yes, that’s right, but I wanted to do is pursue doing this research, trying to figure out what was going on and I did work for the Forest Service but in the process I really realized that the Forest Service is not going to survive without a subsidiary. Originally the industry theory of subsidiary this had to be replenished and the Feds weren’t willing to go along with (inaudible), so that’s the end of it. It had nothing to do with conservationists or anybody else. It was viable without a great heavy subsidiary, which they did get.

Terence: You mean now the Ketchikan and Pulp?

George: Yes.

Terence: The operatives?

George: The two operatives, yes.

Terence: Because it is something in 1960, it really wasn’t oil that on the horizon. I mean pulp seemed to be the main thing.

George: Yeah, it was.

Terence: That one could envision, right, is that fair enough?

George: That’s right, yeah. And I always in making my projections the future always had to level off, most other into line continue to go up. I said no, it’s going to stop right there. And it’s not because of concern about preserving the pristine wilderness because it is not viable without a continuing subsidiary and the Feds aren’t going to go on subsidizing this forever. The reason the Sitka mill came in is because we also decided to help Japan re-establish their basic industries too in exchange for being a bulwark against communism. Those sort of tradeoffs. The global politics took over on that too.

Terence: You know one aspect I like always in the future of Alaska you said maybe you might want to say this that the concept of resources is not ecstatic one and a resource actually expands or do you remember?

George: Yeah.

Terence: How you articulated that, I forget it?

George: Well I think as a resource it doesn’t have a value until there is demand for it. So it’s a function of demand. It’s like when I was trying to put together the Mental Health Trust. I said we had to get a value for sand and gravel. So the Department of Natural Resources had people going through the (inaudible). No that’s not the way you approach that. We have sand and gravel any place, what you look for is what the demand for it is going to be. This is what – I couldn’t get that through their thick skulls that you don’t spend staff time trying to evaluate the – cause I said it’s there. It’s everywhere. If you’re going to build a highway in Alaska, you just find a place you can start digging your gravel. You don’t have to go searching for it, but if you’d not building a highway it doesn’t have any value. And I could never get that across.

Terence: Right, right. Okay. Let’s see. Anything else we should cover here for?

Terence: I did. I can’t think of anything else on this that you work on with the field committee.

George: Well the field committee was the Interior Department is sort of a big gigantic miscellaneous file. You put everything in there. You put Indians in there. You put power in there. You put natural resources – recreational resources, the whole mess. And (inaudible) idea was that it didn’t make much sense. And I think I was talking to you about this, he felt he was like a feudal king with all these powerful lords around him. The only way he could figure out of breaking this down was to reorganize the Interior Department on the bases (telephone ringing).

Terence: So George, we were talking about the Federal Field Committee and –

George: Oh, yes.

Terence: And Pat Krug –

George: Well, the Federal Field Committee was an attempt on his part and the successors to have some control. It was secretary – it was have some control. The idea was to break the continental United States and Alaska and Hawaii into regional units, which were defined as combinations of river basins cause he thought in those terms. And then have each of these have a field committee made up of the various divisions of the Interior Department that operated in that region and then the chairman of that committee would be his representative in that region. So I was a direct representative of – in Alaska from that point.

And we would do the day-to-day managing of things. In other words working out conflicts between the Bureau of Mines and the Geological Survey, competing on many things and on road building and things of that sort there. Try to resolve those conflicts at the regional level. Also the first cut of the budget was to be done on that basis. So you could work out again being aware of what everybody else was doing. New York particular especially fitted into the whole. It was a very, very rational and very, very I thought brilliant idea. Naturally I went because I was the chairman.

Terence: Now did that – was this after you got your Ph.D. or what was the time?

George: This was after the (inaudible).

Terence: So it was the early – it’s the last couple of years of Gruening’s tenure?

George: Actually it had nothing to do with Gruening. In fact, Gruening went ahead and had George Sunbrook (?) (inaudible).

Terence: But it was before Eisenhower?

George: Yeah, just before Eisenhower. I was the chairman about two years when Eisenhower was elected and of course because I was before I was protected by Civil Service but in this position I wasn’t. I figured I was ready to receive my Riff notice and I was called back to Washington, but I told you this story earlier.

Frank Hinzleman, is already there being debriefed and when he heard about this he said I want to transfer George Rogers from that position to my staff and they did it. He said when I came back they haven’t set up their political (inaudible) yet and I wanted to act because we need people like you in Alaska, that was his – naturally I loved the man.

Terence: Well I mean it’s a huge compliment.

George: Yeah.

Terence: I mean cause the deal because Gruening obviously was a propagandist and that’s what we really wanted you know.

George: Gruening looked upon the field committee not as a device for rationalizing the operation of the Interior Department, but the means of promoting Alaska. That’s why he wanted George Sumbrook (?) to be the chairman. Ken Kanoo was the chairman before me but they had to get rid of him because what he was doing he thought – he used his position as access to privileged information to feed to developers.

Man: Yeah, you know.

George: Not character. However, he did give me a lot of support on the Mental Health Program.

Terence: Well isn’t that something that they really screwed up.

George: Oh, Jesus,

Terence: Here the Governor gives you a million acres of land and then you say oh it doesn’t mean anything.

George: Yeah.

Terence: You had it in trust. So again that’s more of my argument. Why would anyone want to trust these ding dongs in Alaska with their own state? It’s unbelievable you know.

Man: The reason these ding dongs came along a little later.

Terence: No, I know they did, but I mean if that’s the type of Alaskan mentality, oh let’s just dissolve this whole thing.

George: When I was looking at the (inaudible) correspondence there.

George: Well, lets not talk – I get pretty emotional about that because it just about killed me.

Terence: Yeah.

Terence: We were talking though George about the field committee and did you go back to DC for that too?

George: Yes, I went back and of course not this is terrible I can’t think of the Secretary’s name.

Terence: It’s not Oscar Chapman though you don’t think so?

George: No, no, it was –

Terence: Who did he follow?

George: I hate this.

Terence: There was Chapman.

George: I can’t even think where I can lay my hands on something that would bring this up.

Terence: Chapman. Of course it’s not Seeton. Is it the guy that followed Chapman?

George: It may have been, yes.

Man: I can almost think of it.

George: Well anyway.

Terence: Stop for a second here, look and see if I can.

Lady: (Inaudible) was based here.

Terence: Oh, I see. So you didn’t actually happen to live in Washington?

Lady: No, no.

Terence: Oh, good, okay.

George: Doesn’t give any names here.

Terence: That’s an opportunity. Let’s talk about this though George the – we’ll figure out who the Secretary of Interior was at the time. I don’t who followed Chapman.

George: Darn it.

Terence: Once you did this though your – so you stayed here (inaudible), I’m glad she explained it because I didn’t understand that and cause essentially the Secretary of Interior, you know, like they used to say was the Tzar of Alaska, you know.

George: Yeah.

Terence: Interior is really the biggest thing, so what kind of challenges did that pose I mean giving up the power I mean you know figuring out getting all these people together in the same room.

George: First of all you had to get the people together to agree to come together and like I said we had trouble. The general manager of the Alaska Railroad refused to come. He had good reason because he was not playing the game square, but they got rid of him. Ken Kano had been there before me. He was the first appointee. When I went back to Washington I said I cannot find any files he said. Pretend like the field committee didn’t exist before you came on, this is Chapman. It was Chapman. He said this – you are the first field committee chairman. Ken never acted on anything (inaudible committee chairman.

When I came back from Harvard, Ken – we were at a coffee (inaudible) backed me up. Ken was a great – he was big man. Backed me up against (inaudible) he says George I want you to be my assistant. He said I’m in charge of all the development in Alaska, that’s not the mission of the field committee. And he said I’m very good at (inaudible) up projects but I want somebody to be there to pick up the pieces after I go so I can go make more development and I want you to manage the development that are provided. I said well I got this job with Alaska Public Works. Forget about that. I said I have a commitment to them.

Well, I finally disentangled myself from me, but he was that way. He practically – he always spoke right in your face with a cigar in his hand and a cigar breath. And I just didn’t want to be associated with him. Well then when he disappeared, it was like the same time that Johnson disappeared. They had been working together on this cement plant, which was to be kept secret because the Interior Department was going to provide a cement plant. The limestone was up at the peak of the railroad where you could run supplies down hill both ways and gave the railroad a back haul and things like this. But somebody leaked out what the plans were so some developers from Anchorage came up and filed mining claims on these deposits, which killed the whole project.

But I think that was (inaudible), but anyway so I started from scratch again. There were no reports. There was supposed to be quarterly reports made and there was the annual report, which was – so I had to do the first thing and I knew what I was supposed to do. It was to be representing the Secretary. I was not to go around seeking out development. Of course Gruening also looked upon them as a developer or means of creating development. I said that’s something somebody else has to do. My job was to assist the Interior Department in managing. And so I concentrated on developing a friendship with all the members and we had a lot of fun too. They all got to be on very good friendly terms with each other and I really enjoyed that job.

So it was interesting when Chapman was back there. He says George you’re a young man. Just beware of Drake. He said when I go to one of these meetings or these things I always get a tumbler full of ginger ale and I nurse it along (inaudible) whiskey but it isn’t. He recommended and I followed his advice because it is true there is a lot of drinking going on in these meetings where it is kind of unnerving because you begin to lose your judgment.

It was so funny he just – he felt he was going to save me from this thing, which I accepted that as good advice. But the whole thing was done almost like a family. It was – they all told me that they looked forward to their meetings. When Kato was there he said a quality – he would tell them what was going to happen, then adjourn the meeting. There was never any discussion, but. So I was the first one that was operating as a real committee member. As Jean said we did quite a bit of entertainment. When they were in town Jean we had dinner parties and we had cocktail parties here too and discussed thing informally after the meetings.

That was very important to have these informal meetings off the record. And it was going along great and of course when Eisenhower came in the field committee was continued for a year or so after but it was crippled and abandoned because there were people with special interests who didn’t like the idea. They wanted to control it from Washington.

So it was a nice interlude. It was a think that I look back on with a lot of fondness because I felt like I was doing something really important. I guess I was, but it didn’t last.

Terence: Did the field committee, but from there you went to Governor Hinzelman’s.

George: Hinzelman saved me because I was being ripped and he just grabbed me and picked me up and put on and said – he got a lot of bad criticism for this because the fact that D’Armand was opposed to this, even though he was a friend, we shouldn’t have any Democrats in this critical position here. But Frank said he knew that I would do what I was supposed to do and I tried to, but it was – as soon as I got this opportunity then he was relieved but he was going to stand by me and he did and that wasn’t easy.

Terence: What was D’Armand’s role? Clase told me once that D’Armand, working for Hinzelman was kind of like the I don’t know Chief of Staff plus hatchet man, you member that. He was really the guy fighting off the Democrats.

George: Yeah, he was and that’s what made his job awkward, because here I was a very liberal Democrat sitting in this desk right next to the Governor. Only thing Hinzelman didn’t like about me is that my desk was always messy. That’s because I was doing work. His desk was always clean.

George: I guess a teenager I’ve always lived either in a barracks or in a hotel room. He didn’t know how it would be to live in that house. And so what he did he hired some of the staff from the Baranoff Hotel where he lived to be his houseboy, his cook, and so on. So he brought the hotel with him into the Governor’s Mansion.

Jean: That’s amazing.

Terence: Because he was a bachelor, right?

George: (Inaudible) a real confirmed bachelor.

Terence: Yeah and his – did he leave because was it ill health or what you know I don’t know if you stayed that long.

George: Yeah.

Terence: Cause Stepovich came after.

George: Stepovich came after him and I was trying to think of what was the transition there. I did some work with Stepovich but Stepovich was his own man. He didn’t pay any attention to the party lines at all. And they were an interesting family.

Terence: Really, Mike Stepovich?

George: Yes.

Terence: He was one of your Vitch’s of Fairbanks, yeah.

George: One of the Vitch’s yes.

Terence: Yeah.

George: His father –

Terence: And now there are sons of Vitchs, yeah.

George: Yeah they were good people. His wife was a wonderful person. How many kids did they have Jean?

Jean: Nine.

George: There are nine kids. They were good Catholics.

Terence: Did – what was the work that you did for him? Actually that was just consulting or you –

George: Yeah I did consulting work for him on we needed some demographic studies made. They were pretty much word involved politics but information that he needed for certain things that he was doing.

His wife said when he – he was one of these lawyers she said that he ruined his suits all the time because he would stand on the street and talk and he ripped all the pockets of his coats he was leaning on a parking meter and he walked away with the pocket draped over the meter and ripped – but he was a real interesting guy. And they were a very good-looking couple too. The kids are all good looking.

George: Guarantee you’d be on the varsity next year but I said – I was sitting in the Jacuzzi with a periodic table couldn’t memorize. I said I’ve got other agendas I have to tend to.

Terence: Yeah, no kidding

George: That’s not what I went to college for Jean.

Jean: He also took Art. George is an artist doing.

Man: Really George, is that right?

Terence: Painting or cartoons or what?

George: Mostly – well some of my sketchbooks would survived well George Sidney got them and had copies made. They were burned in smoke but I did a lot of sketching. Also because I wanted to be an architect. When we went to Europe I did drawings of –

Jean: (Inaudible) Alaska. Line drawing.

Terence: Wow.

Jean: He’s very good.

Terence: Because as a child you wanted to be an architect?

George: Yeah, right, yeah. And I did parts of the Grand Tour later in life when we went and other things.

Terence: See what you could have become?

George: Yeah.

Jean: He sings too.

George: Probably tearing these things up again.

Terence: Does it sound okay?
Terence: Oh, yes, just anything else about the D’Armand. I don’t know if you had much dealings with D’Armand then?

Jean: (Inaudible) couple of times and we didn’t do it.

George: Short-term memory.

Terence: Mine too. I have no idea.

George: Maybe we better let Jean talk.

Jean: Talking about the field committee.

Man: D’Armand.

Terence: Oh, D’Armand and Hinzelman’s. George, maybe you can give me some advice what should I ask Bob about, because I know they can go way back, right.

George: Yeah, they do, yes.

Terence: And I don’t know if Bob knew them from being in the fish business or what.

George: I don’t know. In fact I don’t know the ins and outs about why he selected Bob cause you see he was down the hall from me and we didn’t – but afterwards we were very good terms afterward. It was just an awkward thing to have me sitting there and I knew that so I got out as quickly as I could. Well it took a while, a couple of years.

Terence: Where did you go after that?

George: That’s when I got the Ford Foundation grant resources for the future. I keep saying Ford Foundation, it was just (inaudible). And that was to be like a three-year grant and I turned out two books. I didn’t get the third one done, but I did when I did that circumpolar north with two other – Terrance Armstrong and Graham Raleigh. That one was one that took the place of the third one where I put Alaska into a global context and looked at it. And so we did accomplish the three books with interruption.

Terence: Well that’s what I said, I think that (inaudible) of statehood that’s a book that everybody in Alaska should know. The difficulty is like I said it is so grounded in that time and some elements. I mean I don’t know I know some elements you may be able to expound on them use another way, but I just think that it is so interesting there about the questions about it. Because now because the state has been so eked financially successful in a way.

George: Yes.

Terence: We have these fiscal problems but we’re still so incredibly rich that people don’t understand that that’s you know. I don’t know I just think we have the victory disease you know, what they call World War II you know. I mean that’s what we have.

George: Yes, it is and it all started falling apart when we achieved this, like I say financial independence with the oil and then we didn’t know how to handle it, which was a tragedy.

Terence: And but it’s also I guess the opportunity isn’t it. I mean we have still opportunity where we can go I suppose. Let me just one last question. Okay. I know I said that before. How you know sort of looking back is there any sort of one time that the (inaudible) happier for you personally, professionally, as a family you know than any other times. Something that you really enjoyed that.

George: Well the first years were as a whole very happy because we were making progress. Things were changing. Field Committee was a high point. When I lost that I did get a grant so I could go on writing about it and then with statehood I said before there was this period in which the legislature, the political scene was not as ugly and vicious as it has become. And that was a downer. I don’t think we survived – I say the real downer to me was the (inaudible) of the Mental Health Trust lands and it was – I just felt I was betrayed. I was – a lot of things happened to me and I just was very unpleasant.

Terence: Well maybe you should say something about that just for the record, because this is for the future you know so speak up. Because basically there was a million acres and the state was supposed to hold it in trust – the territory right, because it was given to the territory first, right?

George: Yes it was and it was the hold point of it was to get the federal government out of the Mental Health business and up to that point what we did we simply warehoused people who were difficult and had problems. We didn’t differentiate between alcoholism and mental health. There was no concept of what really mental health really meant and we just sent them south to Morningside. There was a saying in the Alaska outside, inside, Morningside, this was the story of coming to Alaska. And it was treated really very crudely. And the idea of the Mental Health Trust lands was to build a resource base on which the money could be used. The flaw in the drafting of it was that it was set up and they make a very (inaudible) as a trust, then they said the resources can be sold. And this gave some of the Department of Natural Resources a peg to say it was not a true trust. But today I’ve told you this thing about what they really intended if you read the record of the drafting of this they were looking at this as a transfer of the raw materials to cash which was then invested. But that was one of the things that we had trouble with.

The other was the defeating that the Secretary of Natural Resources director and the Attorney General both exchange correspondence on which I saw and they said well that’s the Natural Resources people didn’t know how to manage the Trust. Well let’s just get rid of the Trust. The mentally ill don’t know who they are anyhow so we’ll take (inaudible) mental ill have families. And when they did this, then the families and friends of the mentally ill formed the Alaska – now I can’t even think of the name –

Jean: (Inaudible)

George: (Inaudible) this is Juneau lives, (inaudible) Alaska lives. They sprung up all over the state and then we – then as organizations filed suit against the Department – the State for breaking the Trust. And it went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ordered the Trust be established. And they set up and so I was the chairman of the committee that was supposed to do the re-establishment of it. Well I realized that more than 50 percent of the lands had been disposed of in various ways. It would be a lifetime of lawsuits, third parties, innocent third parties who had acquired land that had been sold.

So we came up with the idea of creating an alternative. And what we were going to do is set up the lands that had been selected by the State for parks and other things, whether they were Mental Health or not – Trust or not, until you got a million acres and say this is the new Trust. But then we would trace back the original land trust and see what its value was. This would be the basis for determining how much money that should be transferred from this.

And it was fine because – I thought it satisfied everybody. But then when it came to the point of putting a value on the lands, the Department of Natural Resources refused to use anything except comparable sales. So when you came to (inaudible) had selected mineral lands that were accessible around the highway net near already developed areas so that they could be developed easily. So they put zero value on those lands and I said why? Because we can’t find any comparable sale of mineral lands. I said of course not you don’t sell mineral lands you lease them. I said in other words you would say that Prudhoe Bay had a zero balance and they said yes. I said you must be insane. What you do you would capitalize – they didn’t know what I was saying the future earnings that you will get from the leasing of that land and that becomes the value of the land. I could never get it through their thick skulls.

What I did when I took over this job I realized I got all the textbooks that real estate agents study when they studying for their examinations and I read those books. I got a hold of the – if you had comparable sales you had the discounting from a present value to future earnings and a whole bunch of other things. So I had all this in hand and they refused to do anything but the comparable sales. And in the textbooks they said comparable sales should only be used where there is frequent turnover, like real estate in an urban area. Then you have these other alternative methods for things like mineral lands or lands where your resources are harvested.

Well the thing broke down on that. I couldn’t get anybody to even our lawyers didn’t understand what I was talking about. It was just a complete frustration. We did – then we had the other thing that they said we don’t have any more money, but what they decided to do was to hire a professor from New Mexico who had written a textbook which I had recommended to them on the evaluation of mineral lands, but they didn’t tell me they hired him. He called me up from Fairbanks and said I didn’t realize George that I was getting into the middle of a lawsuit. They didn’t tell me this. But I want to tell you that they wanted him to evaluate what we had done. We couldn’t use their methods so we hired a professor from the London School of Economics to come over and do this for us, you look at other lands like the Rocky Mountain States and get a comparable value. But it was impossible for us – he was appalled when he found out what he had stepped into. He said he was criticizing our work on the grounds that we hadn’t done the right approach. The reason we hadn’t done it is because they wouldn’t allow us to do the right approach.

But they then hired him to evaluate what had been done. And he said the information that the Department gave us was the wrong information. And that was – after I read that I said this is criminal. This is – by that time the legislature got tired of this. They went along with us up to the point where they set up the methodology, but when we tried to apply the methodology well we ended by this long – I finally resigned. Then this long negotiation and they came up with this board to manage these lands. The board members got salaries that are almost comparable to the head of the Department, but they don’t do anything. So any money they might get from those Mental Health lands goes into the running of the management, which means that – the only thing we gained from this was a heightened public awareness of what Mental Health was about. But we did get appropriations, which we didn’t get before. We did get some programs put in place, which we didn’t have before, so it wasn’t a total loss. But it was not what we expected. Not what the federal government expected us to do. Like I said I felt like I was really bushwhacked and a few others things. Lydia Selcreek (?) and I were – fought that battle almost a month.

Jean: And (inaudible).

George: Yeah, she was not on the – she was on something else.

Terence: And I think it is an example some day somebody will have to write about. It was the grossest example of a State mismanagement.

George: Yes.

Terence: Of this land and so that in itself going back on this presupposition without statehood.

George: Uh-huh.

Terence: They can’t just dissolve a million acres and it’s the least able members of society and do – say we don’t have to care of them cause the Feds care for them. The whole idea was to get it off the federal dole that was the whole idea.

George: And it made sense because then you bring it closer to home where you can really manage this sort of thing, but I try to block that out of my mind because I wake up at night thinking about that and get very angry. I did manage to extract from the record for example I found the thing where they were cooking the minutes. I didn’t bother with the minutes. So then I insisted –

But then I had to then – I put a box in the Eagan Library and they have turned that over the archives now. So I assume that is there, but they deliberating were trying to shred the record. So, but it was a long drawn out battle. It was a total losing battle.

Terence: Well I see it’s an embarrassment to the State. It is the biggest mistake because of the fact of what you said. So at least you did your best (inaudible). I mean what a scramble eggs they made of this. As soon as they abolished the thing it probably an impossible situation to really fix frankly looking at it you know.

George: And that’s the reason –

Terence: How do you go back and unscramble it?

George: The court order listed re (inaudible) the land trust. Well we couldn’t do that. Cause third parties were involved in this, but like I say the Mental Health Program has advanced since then because of all the publicity.

Terence: And better than territorial days I would say so.

George: Oh, my God yes.

Terence: Better than Morningside?

George: Well this is the point I mentioned Bill Redding was a great help with this when he realized he got up and said I’m not going to have the State spending money for having people lie on couches being psychoanalyzed. So and I went and said Bill I said you don’t understand mental illness. And one of our daughters went through and I described what we went through and he actually had tears in his eyes. He came to me and apologized and then he became a real champion of the programs. It was with his help and a few other people that we got not the mental health plans but mental health legislation through so I have to give Bill credit for that.

Terence: Well it’s better. I mean that you know and it is more enlightened about some things. It is just that when you mix these Alaskans up with lands and resources.

George: Yeah.

Terence: Since that’s the only capital we have look at the mess it made you know, so. Well, okay I don’t have any more questions for George honestly, but actually I want to thank you for consenting to this. And I know it’s a you know pretty grueling here so I really appreciate it.

George: It was good for me to review in my own mind what was going on here.

Terence: Well I want you to think about this cause I’ll be glad to help you if you want to do that book. I can come down and do that.

George: Well I intend to do this and it will be a – I don’t know where to start it. A few things like that but I want it to be line journeys through these things not just about me, but what happened around me and how things worked. And as (inaudible) said you don’t have to worry about footnotes George, you’re the primary source and anyone who would contradict you is probably dead now.

Terence: That’s exactly right. Okay, thanks George.

George: Okay.

Terence: Okay, today is still September 22, 2003 and we are at Jean and George’s house in beautiful sunny Juneau. So Jean tell us about George’s secret life? You’ve heard all about it, the truth is what we want to know.

Jean: You know he and I – I have done of course we built our first house ourselves and we came back to Alaska with a book that George had that said How to Build Your Own Home for $3,000. And he can do anything he can read about, except plumbing. He said he wasn’t going to do the plumbing. So we managed to pay for the plumber to come, but he did all the wiring and he did it right. And I was only allowed to hammer things where it didn’t show because I was not very good with a hammer. Second under coatings but never anything on the surface that was going to show.

Terence: Did it work out to less than 3,000?

Jean: Well you might – in the end I suppose we had thousands of dollars in it but for long time we put all our fortune in it, as George made it.

Terence: Well tell me a little bit about when you and he met. Where were you from – born? You were born in Idaho, right?

Jean: Yes.

Terence: What part of Idaho?

Jean: Well down in the southern part, the Snake River plain side. I did my high school years in Twin Falls. Then I went to a teacher training college up in Mt. Harrison when Idaho was first a state and you know they had to give so much land to education. They built a teacher training college there thinking that Idaho would be a dry farming state, but that’s too dry. So when irrigation came along everything went the other direction down by Twin Falls and in through there. So Albion was just left up there high and dry, this little school for teacher training. And I had my first two years there. And then I went to the largest university in the world after teaching two years and making a little money.

Terence: So at Berkeley, right?

Jean: And that’s where I met George.

Terence: So what year did you go down to Berkeley, what year was that?

Jean: I guess I came in 1940, 41.

Terence: Was that your ten dollars – your ten-dollar deposit?

Jean: I sent my ten dollar application in and the first thing they had a get together you know the way they do to introduce everybody around and there were a lot of junior transfers to Berkeley. They encouraged that and when I met George I said isn’t it fun for you to put the faces to those ten dollars you got? And he said yes.

George: I managed to say yes.

Terence: You did, yeah.

Jean: And of course the way he tells it he made up his mind to marry me early on but my – the girls at the girls house think I just chased him right down into a corner. You see he was a mutual thing, been kind of a mutual thing ever since.

Terence: And so your – what were you studying at Berkeley? What was your –

Jean: I was an English Major.

Terence: And so what year did you graduate – did you graduate down there?

Jean: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh.

Terence: What year was that?

Jean: 1943-½ I guess it was. I had to take an extra semester. I really should have gone ahead two years but in Berkeley they didn’t let you take technical courses like teacher training until you were at least junior and of course I had all these thousands of education credits so I lost of them so I had to make it up. And I was already married to George by then and we were supporting each other. At one point I made more money than he did.

Terence: An English Major out-earning an economist, now that’s a story. When you came – what was it like, the trip up to Alaska, first trip in 1945?

Jean: Well it was a wonderful adventure and we thought we were doing we were doing our war duty and actually got here and there was all sorts of things that we hadn’t seen in Berkeley for a long time. Like steaks and eggs and whipped cream and even if it was Abescet.

Terence: Now why was that because the rationing wasn’t here or what was?

Jean: Yes, they didn’t – the rationing – they didn’t do any rationing here.

Terence: And so what did you expect to stay for a little bit or?

Jean: Well we had signed on for two years, like all government employees do you know. And we found out that not only was it a (inaudible) town, although it was only about 6,000 people you know, but it had a flavor to it and besides as you know George found this to be an ideal spot to do this research was wanting to do. So it was just a terrific happenstance. We thought we were just really fortunate. And Mildred Herman took right a hold of me and said now just because you’re going to be housewife and a mother doesn’t mean that you can’t do public duties and volunteer your time and so on and so I’ve been doing that ever since.

Terence: Did she kind of show you around and stuff because she was the one that George was working too right, yeah?

Jean: Yes. Uh-huh. And well I guess we stayed with her, didn’t we George?

George: Yes, at the beginning.

Jean: For the first three or four days while we were looking for a house you know. Until very recently housing was always scarce in Juneau. I can remember quite well a few years ago when I saw the first sign that I have ever seen in Juneau, Apartment for Rent.

Terence: Man, that’s something, that’s awful.

Jean: And we – it was all because of this thing of not getting any money you know to rent out the place.

Terence: Sure and it being so constricted.

Jean: Well it isn’t actually constricted. People have that people about it and some people don’t like it because the mountains are so close and they feel constricted, but it’s really we’ve got endless space to build and do things. Good Lord they’re even talking about making a golf course and some extension you know. Fancy that?

Terence: No, I can’t. So the – what kind of things were you involved in Jean. What kind of things?

Jean: Oh the library grabbed me right off to do storytelling and I’ve been volunteering in libraries ever since.

Terence: Was that Gail, was she librarian then?

Jean: Oh gosh no, it was wonderful old lady named Nan Coleman. Gail came along a lot later. The next one was Edna Lohman and that was strictly a political appointment and she didn’t know anything about libraries. In fact I didn’t find out until quite some time later and I helped her a lot. I didn’t have any children then.

I went to the legislature all the time too because it was interesting. It is not interesting any more. But you know everything used to happen on the floor. We were there the famous time that Elizabeth Brodavich made her speech because she actually happened to be a friend of ours too. We took care of their kids once while she and her husband went on a trip.

Terence: Was that – why don’t you describe the speech? Did you know she was going to give it that day? That was about the Civil Rights Bill in 1945.

Jean: Well we knew she was going to make a plea.

Terence: And so you were in the audience that day?

Jean: Yes.

Terence: Oh wow. Yeah. What were some of the most of the most interesting legislators then or was there anybody who comes to mind. I don’t know if there is anybody.

Jean: Oh there were lots of them. They were all kind of – was it Jones from Nome.

Terence: Charlie Jones.

George: Charlie Jones.

Terence: Yeah.

Jean: Then there was that one from Ketchikan.

George: Dr. Walker.

Jean: Yeah.

Terence: Walker, yeah.

Jean: And you know they were good – great talkers and it all happened on the floor like Judge Arnold sitting there on the floor you know doing his bit. You could see it all. So it really was interesting. And I was young and free and you know I could go and watch and I did. I enjoyed it a lot.

Terence: Can we stop for a second?

Man: Yeah I’m hearing something – I think it’s an airplane.

Jean: He was four and they stayed with us for four or five days I think. And we had found a house just down the block from here, a little miner’s cabin and fixed it up and lived in it. And I had a little nursery schooler after a while for the American Women’s Voluntary Services. Then it moved to the top floor of the Governor’s Mansion. That was another volunteer thing I did, but Dorothy Gruening let us have the third floor for a cooperative nursery.

Terence: For all the little kids of –

Jean: By that time I had two – the first two children which we adopted in Boston.

Terence: Tell me what were the names of the kids, what were –

Jean: Well we were fortunate to get girl boy, girl boy and girl boy. And we got two in the 40’s and – in the late 40’s, and two in the mid 50’s and two in the early 60’s and they go Shelly and Jeffrey were the first day. Then it was Sidney and Gavin, and then it was Sabrena and Garth. All very literary names.

Terence: So that’s a broader range of age – 10 years ago maybe or 12 years.

Jean: The oldest – our oldest daughter was 17 when we got Garth at three months. He was three months old. So there is quite a gap. We were at parenting for a long, long time. So I was a volunteer at the school for a very long time. I’m the – I tell them I’m the oldest living volunteer at Harborview School.

Man: I’m hearing another airplane coming into range here.

Terence: Aaron, you rolling?

Aaron: Rolling.

Terence: What kind of stuff did you do at the library, what kind of things, just like reading and storytelling?

Jean: I had you mean at the school library?

Terence: Yeah, yeah.

Jean: The tasks that you know people think librarians don’t have anything to do but reading, but there are a big lot of tasks that go into and one of the things I was quite good at was finding misfiled cards. Of course we don’t have – you don’t do that sort of thing today but and we – I did a lot of reading to the kids. In fact they all – these kids that I call my Harborview kids think I was one of the librarians. So I’m a librarian by acclamation. And I belong to the Library Association and support everything about a library.

Terence: Yeah, it’s like the great American institution isn’t it? I think the Public Library –

Jean: Oh, it isn’t.

Terence: Yeah, yeah.

Jean: And when one of our local borough assemblymen decided that we should charge a dollar every time you took out a book. I tell you my hackles went right up. We gave him to understand that America was built on the free library system.

Terence: That’s great. How did – but talk about the kids were quite verbal cause you and George talk a lot?

George: Oh, yeah.

Jean: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh.

George: We use big words.

Jean: Yes, I think one of the things we were able to give to them was good verbal ability, good number of words they know. They may have failed in other aspects but they all knew words. We read a lot to them. Every evening we read to the children around the table while George and I had our cup of coffee. And we went through volumes. I was still reading when the youngest finally left home and then there wasn’t anybody but George to read to and we found we could read faster to ourselves so that’s when I gave that up.

Terence: Well what was it like sort of in family things Jean like you were saying that you guys often shared a lot of the duties and stuff?

Jean: Oh terrific yes. We would never have managed six children had not we both pitched in on all fronts. And he did his – when we were building the house he used to come home, get into his carpenter’s overalls and –

George: I did it after dinner.

Jean: And worked until dinner and then after dinner he read to the kids while I bathed a certain section of them. They had already – we hadn’t started reading to them at the dinner table when they were really small but we certainly did before the smallest was any more than crawling around on the floor.

Terence: So when you’re at the dinner table you just read books as you were sitting around eating sort of?

Jean: No, no, we ate first.

Terence: Afterwards, okay.

Jean: You can’t eat and read a book at the same time.

Terence: Okay, right.

Jean: But I can drink coffee and read a book at the same time and I did. And then I got interested in various other things. When I was first here I volunteered some for the Health Department. And I remember reading TB tests because TB was such a – and another thing I did for the Health Department was you know in the decade of the 50’s – 50 to 60, the Health Department here almost erased TB. And I did – they did a study about this and in all the villages and gosh there are a lot of villages and what influenced the villages the most. And of course it turned out to be the religious leader and the teacher and if they were big enough a nurse and the impact that it had on them. And I collated that with a little intelligent help from George for the White House Conference. There was a White House Conference on this nationwide. And Egan was Governor and I was supposed to get to go with two people from the Health Department, but at the last minute he said only one person could go from the Health Department so the other person and I never got to go, but it was really interesting.

Terence: TB was the scourge of Alaska wasn’t it?

Jean: Oh, yeah.

Terence: Rural Alaska, yeah.

Jean: But what I found out in going from room to room and testing these TB things was that you could the minute you stepped into the room what kind of a teacher there was there. Having been a teacher of course – I would have probably gone on teaching school here but the superintendent of schools at the time was prejudice against any woman whose husband worked for the government. That was kind of a hangover from the depression I think.

Terence: So if you had a woman who had a government job they just wouldn’t hire them is that right?

Jean: Well yeah, they wouldn’t hire his wife, but so I had to go out and adopt all these kids.

Terence: But and so but reading the TB test was just around here. Did you go to village for that?

Jean: Oh, no, no. There wasn’t the money to do that.

Terence: I see. I see.

Jean: There was some you know the –

Terence: Local people did that?

Jean: Yeah.

Terence: Yeah, yeah, I see, okay. Well tell us about the writing and stuff. How did you – what was your first project?

Jean: Well I always intended to be a writer. I wrote a grubby little book when I was 10 years old in a notebook that I kept in my overalls pocket because I liked to wear overalls. And I remember the looks of it, but I don’t remember anything about what was in it. A lot of misspelling I expect.

Terence: Remember what the title was?

Jean: Oh, no, heaven’s no. I haven’t the faintest memory of what I wrote, but I did know that I – as soon as I found out that writers were humans, just real people, I – that was for me cause I really loved books. And but I really didn’t have – I really didn’t have creative energy left until my last two kids were in high school. And then I started seriously doing it. It took me five years to get a book published and the first one that was published was Good-bye My Island. Although (inaudible) and I had put together A King Island Christmas and sent it off first to the same company that did publish – Green (inaudible). They thought that it was kind of esoteric and maybe would not – there would not be general interest, but they liked Good-by My Island and after that was published it got very good reviews all over and sold well. I never made it out of the mid list of authors however. And so then they took King Island Christmas.

Terence: Tell us about working with Ree Menuse (?) because you’ve known her for a long time, right, when did you first?

Jean: Well I met her when she first came to town in the 50’s and liked her and we’ve been friends ever since. But she had done a year of teaching school with her then husband Juan Menuse. And she had really liked it and she had done a lot of sketches about it and his story about Father Karel coming was a true story and she thought it would make a good picture book and she knew I was sending off stories and she asked if I would do the story. And as far as working with her she did her thing and I did my thing. I did have her read everything I wrote about King Island because it based loosely on her – she’s the Maria in the book, loosely based you know to make sure that I didn’t do what people do so often when they write their first book about Alaska they fill it full of incongruities of one kind or another. So I was very careful not to and I did consider seriously that it was somebody else’s culture. But they weren’t writing the story and I just thought it was a story that should be told.

Terence: And how did you do – did you sort of interview her I mean did she have a tough to read about it? How did you –

Jean: No, if I had been a Catholic girl I would have found a lot more about it than I did, but I didn’t know that the succeeding fathers who had been there had done a lot of writing about it, so I didn’t have that material, but I did look through the newspapers and got as much material as I could. And she had lots and lots and lots of pictures. And I didn’t interview her in any way, shape, or form. I just -it just – I was so interested in what she had to say about it over the years that I had known her you know that it was just all there.

Terence: What about King Island Christmas? You actually said that one came first? You actually did that one first?

Jean: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Terence: So how did that –

Jean: That’s what got me so interested in telling this other story.

Terence: And it’s basically from hearing it – her talk about it in a way right?

Jean: Yes.

Terence: That’s really the inspiration.

Jean: Well the King Island Christmas was because she asked me if I would write the story because I agreed that it was an interesting story. And it would make a good picture book and she had already done some pictures, some pictures of the North Star and the rough seas and so it was just a pure pleasure. My – working with me was mostly to encourage her and tell her that this is a wonderful picture and she is just doing wonderful things and – because she found out that she does not like to do picture books. You know you have to do 23 or 24 pictures all in the same color pad, all about the same people and she is greatly, greatly an artist who wants to look through her sketch book and see what appeals to her. If it doesn’t turn out she turns over the paper and tries it again. If that doesn’t turn out she picks another one, yeah. And that thing of having to do it. Now some artists like that. They like the parameter that is forcing them to do this, but she did black and white’s for the Good-bye Island, little black and white sketches. And then she did – and she had already done King Island Christmas and then she did one of my mittens and she said this is it.

Terence: Well let’s say you know if there is something that you kind of you know looking back what was the happiest time for you kind of being in you know – I asked George about this earlier, is there some kind of time or event or thing you were involved with or thing that was really the most fun?

Jean: Well of course it was really fun when we adopted our first little girl. It was really fun when we adopted our last little boy. I don’t know I think there’s a state of mind in which you decide to be happy with what you have and I was certainly of that state of mind. Besides he’s a great guy.

Terence: Is he a great guy?

Jean: Yeah, he’s a great guy.

Terence: Is he, yeah?

Jean: Yeah.

Terence: So why is he great guy?

Jean: Well he’s thoughtful. He’s courteous. He’s kind. He’s loving. He’s smart. He’s talented you know. He’s just a great guy. And he likes me. We still like each other.

Terence: Well that’s pretty nice. And you’ve been married now for?

Jean: Well it will be 61 years the 27th of this November.

Terence: That’s wonderful.

Jean: And we’re hoping to last a few years and enjoy this nice new house.

George: The house that’s definitely the goal.

Terence: Even more than a few, Jean.

Jean: That’s why you have to feed us.

Terence: That’s right, which is what we’re going to do. Can you think of anything else we should ask?

Robert: Well just one question based on what our premise is. You came up here before it was a state, would you share with Terrence here your impressions of what happened through the process of turning from territory to state?

Jean: You know it was –

Terence: Look towards me though Jean so we can –

Jean: Oh, it was a time of real thrill because we were building a state and it just inspired all kinds of people and all kinds of people came here. We met all sorts of interesting people here and I must have invited a lot of them to dinner. It was just a great and glorious time. I think the only – the most difficult time of our lives was when the kids were teenagers and the difference between teenagers when Shelly and Jeffrey were teenagers and the teenagers when Sydney and Gavin were teenagers was just terrific. Society just fell apart on you. Society used to help support you as a parent. That’s not true, but that wasn’t true any more and that was hard. But we had each other and the kids are loving thoughtful children today. Are grownups and it’s the nicest thing about having kids is that when they grow up you can be friends with them.

Terence: Yeah that’s wonderful. That’s the greatest accomplishment, isn’t it, so?

Jean: It is. Besides I liked my mother-in-law.

Terence: Oh your mother-in-law was?

Jean: George’s mother.

Terence: Okay. So is she still alive now?

Jean: No, when she was widowed she came to spend time with us and then we got to really know her and she was really a great lady. I loved her a lot. My mother had been dead for some years.

Terence: Oh, that’s nice, that’s wonderful.

Jean: My dad used to come and visit us and he was fun too.

Terence: And from Idaho, was he from?

Jean: Uh-huh. They put me in school in Albion you know up in this wild place up in the mountains where there wasn’t any transportation to Albion Teachers College.

George: You put your kids in school and they couldn’t get out.

Jean: So your folks brought you or somebody brought you that had a car and deposited you and there was no way to get out until somebody came and got you. It was really cut off. It was a funny – it was a wonderful little campus, quite pretty. Desired after a New England school all in a quadrangle with red brick buildings around you know. It was really a very pretty place.

Terence: Gosh I wonder if it’s exists or –

Jean: Well it exists but it is not a teacher training college and it hasn’t been for years and the buildings are getting derelict, although the little town tries – has tried to sell it as a – well for a while it was a religious school. And then for a while it was something else. And then they’ve been trying to – it’s good skiing there so they’ve been thinking of trying to make it a ski resort but nothing has actually come of it. I did take George back to it.

George: And that was very interesting.

Jean: Some of my Albion friends.

George: Beautiful, red brick.

Jean: One of the highlights four years ago was when there were eight of us who lived across the hall from each other, roommates you know, so it made eight of us. And we kept in touch and when they were all 80 they all came up to visit except one who was too ill to come. And it was what – Marshall Linn’s wife called Jean among the Q-tips. They were all white haired. But we had such a glorious reunion up here. It was just – it was really lovely to do.

Terence: How wonderful. So all seven of the eight came, isn’t that something? Gosh.

Jean: Seven of the eight of us were together.

Terence: Wow. That’s so interesting.

Jean: One of the things that amazed us all as all of us were dirt poor you know. You didn’t go to Albion if you weren’t dirt poor. And all had prospered and none of us can believe that we are as prosperous today from our really dirt poor beginnings. You know I couldn’t have gone to Berkeley if it cost today what – the kids could do it then you know. You could work your way through.

Terence: Yeah, that’s really remarkable – that is remarkable, I mean it just is and also.

Jean: I didn’t know that George was rich, you know, he had this ability to keep books and stuff so he had money in the bank.

George: That’s right.

Terence: Oh, that’s so interesting, but I like Jean among the Q-tips too. I got to tell Lois about – I got to ask her about that. I just actually was up there –

Jean: Our first date was a play

Terence: Oh, it was, oh.

Jean: It was a Shakespeare play. It was –

Terence: Which one?

George: The Tempest

Jean: The Tempest and we have been going to Shakespeare plays as often as we can since and sometimes George has been in quite a few of them and when we were in England we were considered the couple that went to the most Shakespeare plays that anybody they knew had been to. We really did have a good time there. And for me I went everywhere where Jane Austen had ever trod. How about that for a little girl from Idaho? In overalls and want to be a singing cowgirl.

Terence: Oh, you didn’t tell me about that part.

Terence: What about Jane Austen?

(Inaudible).

George: The German Requiem. That was a very interesting one to work on.

Jean: So we and we sung it in choirs, but that doesn’t do a solo performance. You got to have a chorus.

Terence: So tell us about Jane Austen, so you were as big of hers?

Jean: Yes, I’m a big fan of hers. I – when I had went to grade school in a little town next to Twin Falls called Buhl. And I moved after the eighth grade to Twin Falls and of course when you’re a school kid when you move into a neighborhood a school isn’t on there is not as much chance to get to know the other kids. So my sister and I gloried in the library there because we had just about run out of books in Buhl. And so we went to the library every day when it opened and got books and one day she said to me Jean, read this book you’ll like it. And it was Jane Austen’s Private Prejudice. And I was 13 and I just loved it and she loved it. So when we went and I have read all of her books several times and I’ve read a lot of stuff about her. So I’m something of an authority, more so than some of the people who write about her I think sometimes. But I did go – George and I went everywhere she went.

Terence: Is that right?

Jean: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Terence: To where?

Jean: To – help me out George.

George: You’re talking about Scotland?

Jean: Yeah. Uh-huh. When we were –

Terence: Walter Scott or –

Jean: Yeah.

Terence: Oh, okay, that Scott, okay. Uh-huh. Oh wow.

Jean: He had a very nice study. George was quite envious.

Terence: No, but I think that so in a way libraries have been one of your passions, right, Jean you would say?

Jean: Uh-huh.

Terence: And that has given you a chance to tour a lot around the state would you say?

Jean: Well my books have, not my library volunteering.

Terence: But speaking about them?

Jean: Yes. Uh-huh. Going to schools.

Terence: Yeah.

Jean: Talking about it, but that has been a wonderful opportunity. I’ve been all kinds of places. I used to have a map with the little – on my study door that had pinpoints wherever I had been.

Terence: Well tell us just a little bit in closing about the fire and stuff. I mean what did you guys were in –

George: Berkeley.

Terence: Oh, in Berkeley, okay. So what was the –

Jean: Well we were staying with this friend whose letters I was telling you about and she came in – the phone rang and she came into the room where we were sleeping and she said I don’t know how to tell you this. And George said well just say it. And she said your house – that was Sydney and your house burned to the ground last night. And so George just said to me well guess we’ll just start over. So we did. He started designing a house again. And we’ve been very, very kindly treated by everybody in Juneau I think.

George: Just wonderful.

Jean: We’ve had help in all directions. And we had a very nice contractor and we have a nice head carpenter who is still coming and doing things. As soon as we get the (inaudible) door on the closet and the plate rail up I’d say we’re substantially finished until the outside landscaping gets done.

Terence: What year – when did the house burn down – how many years ago was it now it was two?

Jean: Two.

Terence: Two years ago?

Jean: Uh-huh.

Terence: So and when did you start this house – actually break ground?

Jean: In July.

George: July last year.

Jean: Uh-huh and we moved in on Christmas Eve.

Terence: Oh, nice present.

Jean: Which it was terrible.

Terence: Was it bad?

George: It wasn’t finished. There were two carpenters still working, two plumbers working and one electrician.

Jean: And (inaudible) people all friends of George, young people came and moved us from the Linn’s apartment up here where Marshall and Lois lived and they’re old friends of ours too.

Man: I’m afraid this airplane is really getting loud.

Terence: So you were staying with Marshall and Lois’ house, their apartment?

Jean: Yeah. Uh-huh. And so there was a crew there putting stuff in boxes and a crew here presumably helping me put them away. And I had five – you know it was a small apartment and I had five drawers to keep everything that was meant for a kitchen and here I have 35. So it was – but for days were wondered around saying do you know where this is? Do you know where that is? And searching in boxes for things, but you know we finally got on top of it. But you know one of the worst things about having a fire is that you feel like a displayed person. It was a while before we felt at home here. Besides that everything is gone. We don’t have any fingernail clippers. You don’t have a needle and thread. You don’t have any old rags to wipe up messes with you know. It is just – every day you say well for a long time you say I’m going to get, well no I’m not going to get that. And it’s a big, big tiresome chore, but the results of course are worth it.

Terence: The house is so beautiful now. I guess is there anything part of it that’s kind of liberating and you know you don’t have to make decisions about what to throw out, do you?

Jean: You don’t even have to clean out the closets. I just had begun to do a lot of that.

Terence: I mean obviously awful too but I guess there’s that –

Jean: There are some things that you lose that you can’t replace.

Terence: Can’t replace.

Jean: There is no amount of insurance can replace that.

Terence: That’s right, yeah.

Jean: But I’m not a – one of my philosophies is not to fuss too much about things you can’t help.

George: My philosophy is to keep busy, keep busy and redesigning the house.

Jean: Yeah he had – George did enjoy that part.

Terence: Well you always wanted to be an architect, right?

George: That’s exactly right.

Jean: He designed our first house.

George: Activity and –

Terence: So what’s your review Jean on his architectural skills?

Jean: A1.

Terence: That’s pretty good.

Jean: A plus.

Terence: Seventh career for him.

Jean: Yeah, well, yeah, seven to ten.

Terence: Well I can’t think of anything else – Robert? But you know we’re going to talk to BG Olson tomorrow. So you worked with him on the –

Jean: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh.

Terence: On the public broad (inaudible).

Jean: Went to breakfast with him a lot. I always stayed with somebody when we went on trips to share the expenses. So Lena (inaudible) stayed with a lot and Sharon Gateman. Those were happy days you know. We had money. I didn’t know anything about the technicalities of all that talk you know about this high tech stuff but I was – Bitsey Brennerman and I were the only two people when that crook was hired here – that were against him. We had (inaudible) him out before the rest of them did. So I had some uses there.

And of course we used to go to the national conventions and that was always fun.

Terence: And just one thing about Lois and Marshall. He’s retiring.

Jean: Yes, I just had a note from Lois that they were going to do that.

Terence: Well she’s just delightful. Oh, he is too. I mean they’re both.

Jean: We used to go grocery shopping together when the grocery stores moved out the road you know it was a trip so she’d do the driving and the hauling, take me along. Those were good times. We used to walk with her too. She was one of our walking friends. We walked to Twin Lakes a lot with her.

Terence: And did – George I don’t know if you worked with Marshall?

George: Oh, yeah.

Jean: He was on the Advisory over there as long as the law allowed.

George: Yeah. Marshall said George I’ve hired you to say the things that I’m not allowed to say and the first Marshall cleaned up his mess. We had a guy that they hired as the chancellor whose record was completely false. He was (inaudible). I had nothing against him, but his name was Paradise. It was a strange name.

Terence: Oh, I remember this guy, yeah.

George: And he had –

Jean: Built up quite a name.

George: He had two vice chancellors. He had a basketball team.

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