The following in an entry in a booklet printed in August 1958 to commemorate Alaska’s achieving statehood. It was written by Ty Clark, then news director of KENI Radio and Television:
The shouting is over, but the joy and enthusiasm lingers on! I’m speaking, of course, about Congressional approval of statehood for this great country of ours. It was a memorable occasion for the majority of Alaskans the day the word was flashed instantaneously by the miracle of teletype. After years of struggle, red tape, delay and what-not, the victory was finally ours.
If you weren’t in Anchorage that glorious Monday you couldn’t possibly believe what happened. Anchorage was like Times Square in New York City on V-E Day, minus a few people of course, but just as noisy.
To recap some of the highlights, Anchorage’s three radio stations had the pleasure of passing on first the wonderful news to the population. Announcers shouted with glee and dee jays spun “Alaska’s Flag” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Then our two TV stations joined in, followed by special editions of both daily newspapers, whose front pages have now become great souvenirs. Many offices closed, and thousands poured into the streets, shouting, singing, hugging and kissing one another. Fireworks exploded aimlessly, hardly audible over the drone of honking automobile horns.
Our statehood bonfire, the climax of our celebration, was a happy affair. The flames and smoke from the 50 tons of scrap lumber were visible over a wide area. And the largest crowd ever assembled in one place in Anchorage witnessed the blaze. It was estimated by police at nearly 15,000. That’s 25 percent of the entire civilian population of the Greater Anchorage area.
The battle is not completely won, however. We must now go to the polls on Tuesday, August 26, and vote “yes” on all three statehood propositions. It’s up to us to finalize this day in history.
This column is provided by the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society. Reach them at [email protected] or leave a message at 688-4706.