Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Noise

The first 10 years we were in Alaska we lived remotely

October was pretty terrible, socially and politically. Wars and rumors of wars, babies beheaded, mass shootings, and a Congress that couldn’t catch its behind with both hands. It got so I ignored the news, except local stuff, as much as possible and resorted to Pawn Stars and Duck Dynasty for distraction. By the end of the month I was hiding in the back room reading “Alice in Wonderland.”

The first 10 years we were in Alaska we lived remotely: No phones, no TV and only sporadic radio. No way to track the goof-offs and goof-Ups going on in Congress or who Russia was throwing rocks at, not even which so-called star was misbehaving with what other wannabe.

The mail plane came in three times a week, weather permitting and the store had a two-way radio, so we weren’t completely isolated if we really needed to be informed, which in that 10 years never happened. Someone got a newspaper, albeit a few days late, and there were people in and out on the plane, so news, as such, arrived, just not right away. A.M. radio was the prime medium for immediacy but talk shows were not a thing. I remember catching Herb Shaindlain, the local Anchorage bad boy, once or twice late at night when casting about for weather, but no political rants like today.

Even our trips to the fish site each summer kept us relatively incommunicado. No electricity on the beach, and the neighbors were homesteading fishermen, so the prime thing on everyone’s mind was openers and closures and the weather forecast.. The radio was battery powered, so wasn’t run constantly. When we came to town it was a quick in and out.

Our kids were teenagers and didn’t suffer much because of the lack of exposure. Most of the other kids they interacted with were in the same position. Someone might get in to town and bring home a new trend or a new tune that everyone else picked up on but for the most part they made their own society. So we weren’t bothered with bell-bottom pants, platform shoes, streakers or disco dancing. I didn’t see the movie “Blazing Saddles” until the ’80s when I saw it on TV and I’m probably the only person in the world to have never seen “The Godfather.”

Oh, we knew about Kent State, and Watergate; all the coups going on around the world, and Nixon resigning; just not 24/7. In fact 24/7 was not a thing, then. Even in Anchorage, the news arrived the next day via video tape, if they were lucky. The first live TV news to Anchorage was the moon landing in 1969, by way of Armed Forces satellite. A few years later a Super Bowl was broadcast live and some one said “Hey! If we can get a sports event live, how about the evening news, huh?” and a new era was ushered in, for better or worse.

So imagine the culture shock when we spent a school year in Anchorage in the early ’80s and stepped into a culture of shag rugs, cable TV, Afro hair styles and miniskirts. On certain days we would see hot-air balloons from our rented apartment. We had to drive every place and paid exorbitant gas prices (for then). It was an eye-opening year coming from the relatively quiet, uncluttered atmosphere of remote Alaska.

The last 40-plus years have gotten progressively more cluttered and insanely noisy. We have moved from an “event” or two a decade to one a year. The “noise” has gotten more ridiculous: We had Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, everything LGBTQ and now Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, whoever that is. Whenever the politicians get in over their heads, they bring in the distractions.

Speaking of … as you read this we are in Anchorage (again) with #1 Son and the Real Barbara Walters to celebrate his birthday. The Hawaiians (so named by big brother) are here, too. Their first foray into the big world since moving to Alaska from Hawaii this past summer. The mining conference was this week is why they are in town, but we didn’t attend any of those sessions, electing to come for the weekend only, to get out one last time before winter locks us down.

I can’t tell you what we’re doing, but I’m sure it includes a steak dinner someplace loud and a few old friends to celebrate another candle on the cake. A lot of remember when-ing and a couple of “Let’s do this again soon” before we all head out in separate directions again.

A couple of days with no news and only fun distractions. When we get home I have my copy of “Alice Through the Looking-Glass” already in the back room ready to shield me from whatever comes next.

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