Wow! So this is what 100 feels like.
Never thought I would make it.
And I haven’t really made it; I am just along for the ride here.
From “Newsies” on the docks to digital democracy, from pasteboards to web content across the country, the Juneau Empire is turning 100 years old in November.
Where did the time go?
I already feel creaky.
Like a bone or two has decided it no longer needs to stay firmly attached to a ligament while I run, or my triceps would rather rest hammock style then proudly look like a triangle of rock, or my ear hair is actually an additional warming feature of my anatomy.
I mean 50 was the milestone for me, personally, socially and just about every other l-l-y out there.
I don’t remember much about my 20’s, something to do with the leftovers from the Flower Power children as they skipped their way through the 50th state I think.
That kind of mingled with a family member who brought unmentionables back from Viet Nam before I could even make it half way through junior high school to form my own opinions about what war does to those high school athletic heroes whose games we would beg our parents to take us to.
By the time my 30’s hit I was all over the place and my 40’s were spent organizing the jigsaw puzzle of my life.
So how does 100 even become doable?
That is what I am asking you.
What in the past 100 years of sports in Juneau do you know about, remember, think of, wax nostalgic about, and, just generally give a good gosh darn about?
What was your favorite moment? Event? Person? Are you over 70 and have a favorite? Are you under 10 and have a hero?
As a Juneau resident my sports recollections only go back to 2009. And what most impressed me was heart and soul of those runners in the Klondike Road Relay, especially a mister Tristan Knutson-Lombardo striding through the early morning of Canada.
As a born and raised Swede in Petersburg, however, my thoughts of Juneau are evil.
Those dastardly Crimson Bears relegating my Vikings’ teams to runners up traveling to the state basketball tournament my junior and senior year. And to top it off... the shorts we had to wear!!! That could be a reality show in itself.
It was no easier before puberty as Petersburg Little League batters had never heard of a curve ball, let alone batted against one, and it seemed like every Juneau pitcher liked to throw hard enough to put holes in our bats and then twist one or two balls so that our batters appeared to be flailing with gaff hooks at imaginary king salmon rather than putting pine (yes, actual wood) on leather (Midwest Holstein cattle to be exact).
My fondest memory of Juneau before I became an athlete involved a tyke (me) wearing those want-to-be Alaskan black-rubber boots. I was about to enter my first “real” movie theater, the 20th Century Theater downtown. I was going to watch “Hatari,” starring John Wayne, Red Buttons, Hardy Kruger, and Elsa Martinelli. My father had to boost me up to hand the box office attendant my dollar and I remember getting change back. In those days this was the same man who helped sell the goodies, sweep the floor, praise the film, and turn on the projectors.
I seem to remember a thousand twinkling marquee lights embracing us, beckoning us into a cavern of wonderful pop-corny smells, through a curtain of heavy velvet and into a chair that creaked out my name when I sat down.
I remember darkness, my boots sliding on the cleansed secrets of a thousand nights before, and then ‘woooooeeeeeeeee,’ a thrill ride of excitement. When the movie ended, dad had to drag me away from the movie poster in the rain as I begged to watch it one more time.
And I remember crying the next day until I was taken back for a second viewing, and the similar experience the following day.
As an adult I managed to find and purchase the redigitized version of this classic. To this day Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk” looms on my iPod.
So Juneau, speak up. Those favorite memories of 100 years are out there, just waiting to be shared.