Facebook page connects Chugiak-Eagle River

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 10:03

Exponential is a word easy enough to define, but quantifying it is an entirely different matter. Simply put, it means rapid growth. Bringing “rapid” into understandable terms, though, is something else again.

The word immediately popped into my head on Aug. 10 when I was guided to a page on Facebook, the social networking phenomenon that everyone but me seems to know about.

The page is “You know you grew up in Eagle River, AK if...” It was set up as a “group” by Alisha Lindfors, a tech-savvy former resident now living in Georgia. She credited Norma Hall Falgoust, an extended family member who now lives in Anchorage and keeps in close touch, with suggesting that she do so. Alisha had seen similar pages for other places around the country and readily agreed.

Launched on Aug. 6, within a week it had 641 members and listed 1,235 posts. As of this week, that number has grown to 778. Putting it mildly, that’s a lot of exponential.

The page is like a perpetual class reunion in cyberspace. Comments come from both current and former residents, the latter ranging from 15 different states as far away as Florida and stretching from coast to coast. Topics stretch from teachers, both favorites and least-liked, to events such as the 1964 earthquake and the 1972 dynamite explosion set off by three local youths.

Lindfors said in an exchange of e-mails that anyone can join the group, either by invitation from a member or by asking to join and being approved. The membership list is diverse and includes people from three generations. I recognized the names of some who lived in Chugiak before the hyphen and Eagle River were added to the community’s title. Others are their children and their children’s children.

“I love that I have brought together old friends after all these years, and have helped people reunite with each other,” Lindfors said from her home in Columbus, GA. “I can’t wait to get back home one of these days. I miss everything about Alaska. Her father, Jim Lindfors, delivered The Star in the early days and later was a cook at the North Slope restaurant. It was his sister-in-law who suggested the page to its host.

Alisha Lindfors said she spends one to three hours a day going over the site, reading entries and occasionally “cleaning it up” by arranging entries in appropriate order. She enjoys reading the various entries, she said. I wonder if it was she or the poster who placed asterisks into a couple of words to reduce the vulgarity.

A review of the posts shows its value as a connection to friends of the past with whom contact has been lost. There is a lot of “Do you remember so-and-so” and “Does anyone know what happened to such-and-such?” Responses are amazing. One former resident, now a grandmother herself and living in California, asked about someone from her third grade class. Within six minutes there were four responses to her question.

The 1972 dynamite explosion drew 50 comments in one 10-hour period after Connie Sumrall asked if anyone remembered it. Ten different people added their recollections before Carrie Macsurak Hoff posted the link to an article by Chris Lundgren in the April 2, 2009, Star that described the case in great detail.

There are some eye-openers, too. Grandparents can learn things about their children that their grandchildren probably shouldn’t see. There were comments about the popularity of “reefers road” and the worldwide reputation of a brand of Matanuska marijuana identified only by its initials because its street name is unprintable. To be fair, as The Star has always tried to be, those types of comments are eclipsed by ones about family achievements, good experiences and church activities.

There are photos from the past, each bringing up memories, and a number of requests — and answers — to identify some of the people who are pictured. Examples were pictures submitted by a former resident now living in North Carolina of scenes from a 1950s Chugiak Spring Carnival. One showed a barker for a ring-toss booth sponsored by Chugiak Benefit Association and another was of the “Chugiak Belles” can-can group from the Chugiak Ladies Club.

Some posts come across as true confessions of school-kid crushes. Others are recollections of harrowing sled rides and walking out from vehicles stuck in wilderness mud. And there is a collection of tall tales told to tourists.

To see for yourself or ask to join the group, go to www.facebook.com and search for “You know you grew up in Eagle River, AK”

Prepare to spend some time there in Memory Lane. It engrosses one. Exponentially.


Starlight is a regular feature in the Chugiak-Eagle River Star written by Birchwood’s Lee Jordan, the paper’s founder. Find him at www.byleedordan.com

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