Spirit Bear ~ Fact or Fiction  

Posted by Stan Harrington

In my best recollection, the year was the summer of 1954. After visiting Alaska during the winter, my father, Vern Harrington and by older brother, Tad Harrington worked for Shell Oil Company on the Alaskan Peninsula. This was the day of the early exploration in the wilderness of Alaska. Both my father and brother, even though he was a teenager at the time, were experience "horsemen" and packers. Their job with Shell Oil Company was to move the campsites from one location to another for the exploration crews. This was done with horses, which were leased from a homesteader in Homer Alaska by the name of Jack Dietz. The horses were then barged from Homer to the Alaska Peninsula (Old Harbor).

Moving the camp on a daily basis required them to work alone, ahead of the seismograph crews, most often by themselves. Later in the summer, my brother would move to a support boat that operated off shore for Shell Oil Company. My brother would be the radio operator on this boat, the M/V Tempest. This made my father the sole "packer" for the seismograph crews which almost cost him his life.

A secondary job that they held was to act as "bear guards" when they were working in the same area as the seismograph crews. In performance of this assignment, they did have to put down several Brown Bear that posed a threat to the crews and or horses. Keep in mind, that at this time these bears had experienced very little contact with humans and no contact with horses. Most likely, they considered the horses fair game as any other of their prey.

One of the bears that had to be put down, was a light colored Brown Bear, seeing a "blond" Brown Bear is common, however, this particular bear was almost a pure white in color. Unfortunately, colored film was not a reality and the only pictures taken were Black and White from an inexpensive camera. General Jimmy Doolittle, CEO of Shell Oil Company, visited the seismograph crews in the field, upon seeing the pictures, he turned copies of them over to Walt Disney Studio for their future use.

"Tad" Harrington ~ Alaska Peninsula ~ 1954

Recently, I saw this news clip on television and it made me wonder, if the folklore pertaining to
the "Spirit Bear" is correct or if perhaps there is a sub-specie of Brown Bear that are actually white or it is just a natural very light blond Brown Bear. The "white" bears filmed in the news clip are located many miles (800+) from the location of the "white bear" in the above picture. The possibility exists that if this is actually a sub-specie of the Brown Bear, although it would be a long distance, the possibility exists that there could have been a overland migration of the bears in the south to the Alaska Peninsula.

To view the news clip, click on the link highlighted below:


Posted by Stan Harrington

The sounding of "TAPS" always makes me sad, but at the same it makes me pause and reflect upon the past and the meaning behind the music. We have all heard the notes of "TAPS" played on the trumpet, I have read the actual words to TAPS but until now, I have never heard TAPS played in it's entirety except for one time at the Marines Barracks #1, Washington D.C.

Quite, by accident, I found it recently, it is a beautiful piece of music played by a young lady that plays the piece precisely and beautifully.

Random Shots  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Having just recently returned from an extended driving trip, I had the opportunity to shoot so many pictures. Although my primary interest is Wildlife Photography, I also enjoy shooting pictures of old houses. I enjoy them, not only for their rustic features but also it makes me wonder about the people that once lived in these homes, their history, and their lives. I also saw a number of things that humored me. The trip also gave me an opportunity to observe first hand the economic conditions throughout the western states.

I came as a surprise to me last evening when the electorate of Nevada re-elected Senator Reid. I spent a great deal of time in the small towns of Nevada, most of them living ghost towns. So many businesses closed and house after house with a "For Sale" on it. Talking with the locals, I would have placed a heavy wager that Senator Reid would not be re-elected. Once again, I think the larger cities like Las Vegas and Reno played a major role in his re-election.

I cannot divulge the exact location at this time, I am seriously considering coming out of retirement and purchase a business in Nevada. In past trips, we have seen this business and now because of the economics, it is on the market. Nice mild winters, it would be a good trade off to live in Alaska in the summer and the deserts of Nevada in the winter. It has a small cafe, motel rooms, and a small bar. I did not stop or take a tour of the holdings but have since been in contact with the owner. I am now awaiting the details in regards to the profit and loss statements, what inventory is included, and of course the list of assets. It looks interesting, on a major highway with ample truck parking. Since my brother is a truck driver, I am sure he could push a little business in my direction for those driving the lonely highways of Nevada. I just hope someone does not see the potential before I can make a decision. It is not everyday of the week that you find a "Brothel For Sale"! Economics are so bad in Nevada the whorehouses are even having to close. Since seeing it, it has brought a lot of self indulged humor to the many miles of looking out the windshield. There were two big signs posted, one north bound and the other southbound. Did not see any cars or trucks parked in the parking lot.

The below picture, I know why the owners built this house at this location. It had the only trees that I saw in southern Wyoming for many miles!

Montana ~ Fixer Upper ~ Has a Nice Brick Chimney

Old Timers In Nevada Took Advantage Of Natural Building Materials In The High Desert ~ ROCKS (I Love Rocks) This is one of several that I found that was built into the bluff. Even has a two car garage built out of rocks.

This sign almost came home with me, I know a good location for it. It may be duplicated at a later date. It was located at a Rest Area, surely glad they tested the water and posted it. I have to wonder how many people stop there at night and do not see the sign?

The business community of Granby, Colorado also provided me a couple of days of humor.
I do not know who is in charge of their marketing, but one would think that one of these businesses should not be sandwiched between the other two. "Hey, kids go in and buy yourself a "Happy Meal" or a Foot Longer", I am going into this store and buy myself a "Happy Jug"! As big as the parking lot is, surely there is room for a "Pawn Shop" or perhaps a good location for an "Adult Gift Store" next to Burger King and Taco Bell.

In all seriousness, if you enjoy history or old buildings, spend sometime exploring Nevada from Las Vegas north to the Oregon border. It is a great place, desolate and miles of straight highway, but unique in it's own rugged way. I will explore it once again, perhaps my bucket list for next year.
Goldfield, Nevada which is located on Highway 95 just a few miles from Death Valley in California. It is a living ghost town. At one time, it was the largest City in Nevada during the gold and silver days, population 25,000 to 30,000. Today, ten or twelve blocks of empty buildings sit vacant, boarded up, remnants of the turn of the century. There is a two story hotel that takes up a half city block, peeking through the dusty windows, I could make out the lobby furnishings, including the front desk with the ornate wood trim. It was beautiful and sitting idle for many years. There is only a handful of businesses in Goldfield today, most of them doing business in antiques. I did find a little corner grocery store. Very little inventory but they did have a coffee pot. A lady was operating the store as I made my way to the coffee bar. There were two men much senior to me standing by the coffee bar, enjoying a cup of coffee. Both very helpful, showed me where the cups and sugar was at and even poured me a cup of coffee. I would place them in their late 80's perhaps early 90's. Both dressed in slacks, a dress shirt and pull over sweater. We struck up a conversation from my questions I posed to them about Goldfield. They were raised there as youngsters and have lived there throughout their life. One asked me if I had family, I replied that I did and told him of my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. One of them replied that they had outlived their families. They recalled the glory days, the bars, saloons, brothels, and gunfights in the street. When I had came in, they were having a discussion on country western music with the lady that worked in the store. One of them asked me if I liked harmonica music. I replied that I did, that I had a friend in Alaska that played the harmonica but Bob had passed away. He asked me if I would like to hear a piece of music, as he reached into his pocket and pulled out this harmonica. His eyes stared into mine and he said, "I don't play that country stuff, I play classical harmonica". He commenced on his chosen piece of music, I watch his hand movements and lips coordinate the music that transpired, every once in awhile he had to pause long enough just to get some air into his lungs to continue. The entire time he played, he never look away from the eyes of his friend, as if he was seeking approval of how he was doing. Being classical, it was a very long piece of music, a good seven or eight minutes. Afterward, as we visited he asked me if I had recognized the piece, I got lucky as I did not know the piece, but I knew if had come from the "Big Band Era". He smiled, "young man, you are right, Tommy Dorsey made it popular, but the original composer was ..........." He told me all about the European composer who had written the piece. As I walked to the front counter to pay for my coffee, they followed me. At the counter, I shook their hands and once again thanked him for playing for me, it was very enjoyable. As I turned to leave, his friend came up beside me and whispered "thank you for taking the time to listen to him play and for the kind words that you said about him, you have made him happy man today." I considered myself the lucky one to have had the opportunity to meet them.
This is just another one of those reason's that I do not drive the Interstate Highway System, I do not want to be in such a hurry that I cannot spend a forty five minutes of my time visiting people like this.