News-Miner opinion: Happy solstice, Interior Alaska. Today’s the day, summer solstice arrives at 7:54 a.m. It’s not such a thing in the Lower 48, but up here, well, you know, it’s big.
And it’s always been big.
Because of that, we thought it fun to take a look at some of the midnight sun reporting from Daily News-Miner pages of long ago, in 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 and 1950.
Read and enjoy. You might recognize a couple of family names.
June 22, 1910: The second paragraph of an extensive Daily News-Miner report of the previous night’s 1910 Midnight Sun Baseball Game describes the scene as follows:
“Five minutes after 11 o’clock Bob Geis, the veteran ball player who returned the night before, stepped onto the diamond as umpire, being given an ovation by the crowd. Just at 12 or at the end of the fourth inning, the two teams lined up in front of the grandstand to have their picture taken. Various other pictures of the two aggregations in action were also taken from the field. No clouds arose along the northern sky to obscure the light and the night was ideal, except for the fact that it was too cold for fast ball.”
June 21, 1920: “At twelve o’clock today all business stops in Our Town and the entire population will turn out to celebrate the Festival of the Midnight Sun and patronize the various entertainment features devoted to raising money for the Gymnasium Fund. All who have autos will join in the big parade which will wind up at the Armory where the big doings take place. …
“The Armory has been transformed into a bower of beauty with all the atmosphere of a Broadway roof garden — mosquito-proof and the coolest and most comfortable place in town.
“The cabaret entertainment starts at two o’clock and continues throughout the afternoon, with general dancing interspersed between the program numbers. A score or more of youthful beauties will serve refreshments, and they will never be too busy to accept an invitation to ‘Have one yourself,’ and their capacity for ice cream is unlimited.”
June 21, 1930: “The traditional June 21 baseball game will be played in Fairbanks again this year. The Standard Oil team will oppose the Midnight Sun aggregation due to the fact that the Fairbanks Exploration Company is not putting a nine into the field.
“The game will start at 8:30. The two teams are closely matched and a fast game is predicted. There will be no admission charge to the contest.”
(The June 23 edition reported the game’s outcome: “Ralph Wien pitched the Standard Oil nine to victory against the Midnight Sun aggregation Saturday night. He held his opponents scoreless while his teammates were garnering seven runs.”)
June 20, 1940: “Flying into the midnight sun, Pacific Alaska Airways Electra bearing airmail off the first northbound flight of the Alaska Clipper will land its cargo on the Fairbanks airport about 12 o’clock tonight.
“Announcement came from FAA officials late today that the Electra would be dispatched northward out of Juneau upon arrival of the Clipper to complete the first through-flight of airmail from Seattle to Fairbanks within the span of sunrise and sunset.
“Whether passengers will accompany the mail to Fairbanks aboard the Electra was not learned this afternoon.
“On hand to bring a colorful word picture of the successful negotiation of the first Seattle-Fairbanks one-day mail link will be KFAR’s Bud Foster with the station’s new portable transmitter, added to the broadcasting company’s equipment to make possible coverage of such special events.”
(The June 21 edition reported the unfortunate arrival of fog in Juneau, preventing the Electra from reaching the capital city to pick up the mail from the Clipper for delivery to Fairbanks.)
June 21, 1950: “Should skies clear, midnight sun flights will be scheduled at short notice both by Wien Airlines and Arctic Alaska Travel service, whose offices will remain open tonight.
“The latter is also sponsoring a riverboat excursion down the Chena to the Tanana, where a midnight picnic will be spread upon a white sandbar in the Tanana. … The trip will be made in the luxurious S.S. Godspeed, operated by veteran river pilot Jim Binkley.”
There’s still plenty of long days left before the dark sky returns later in 2019. For those winter-lovers out there, the Fairbanks area loses 22 seconds of daylight on Saturday.