When Jim Sampson of Fairbanks noticed an old Alaska cookbook from Clear Air Force Station on his home bookshelf, he knew exactly where it needed to go.
He sent it to volunteers of “From Anderson With Love,” a new group that makes homemade soup once a month for community members in need. The program is modeled after Nenana’s “Soup for the Soul” program, which provides soup for local residents in need every Sunday.
Anderson volunteers were thrilled to receive the surprise package. It was a cookbook from 1967, called “Alaska Sugardoes Homemaker Cook Book — The Northern Lights — compiled by the Sugardoe Homemaker Club of Clear, Alaska.”
In a personal note enclosed with the book, Sampson wrote that he just heard about the new group and thought they should have this book. He signed it “Sincerely, From a ‘Browns Court Boy’ Jim Sampson.”
Sampson lived at Browns Court, near Rex Bridge, and attended school in Nenana, back in the 1960s. There was no school in Healy or in Anderson yet, he said.
He has fond memories of those years.
“When I was down there, the road stopped at Healy,” he recalled. “A lot of people that know me from down there, think I’m from down there. People in Fairbanks think I’m from Fairbanks. But I spent quite a few years down there.”
Sampson went on to become the mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough from 1991 to 1997.
Sampson didn’t know who to send the cookbook to, so he just addressed it to the clerk, he said, and figured it would reach the proper destination. And it did.
Volunteer Robyn Sutton was thrilled when the cookbook arrived.
“In the mail was this yellow envelope,” she said. “It wasn’t addressed to anyone, so I’m thinking someone had the postmaster slip it into my box.”
Inside was the cookbook, a personal note, and a copy of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner article about the program.
“I’m just amazed this guy reached out to us,” she said.
Looking through the recipes, she was excited to see a lot of familiar names. “Joanne Gates, she lived off the Parks Highway toward Nenana. Here’s one by Barbara Rathbone, Charlie Rathbone’s mother.
“I’m just blown away by this,” she added.
Who knows? The group may even incorporate some of these historic recipes into one of their “From Anderson With Love” days. The next special day is scheduled for March 27.
Anderson is a small community about 70 miles south of Fairbanks, adjacent to Clear Air Force Station. It is about six miles west of the Parks Highway at Mile 283.6.
The soup kitchen idea hatched online during an episode of a new local podcast, which airs regularly. The podcast, The Pulse in Anderson and Nenana, is a local call-in show that highlights community happenings and provides an open forum for callers.
It provided a forum for people to brainstorm ways to help others during the coronavirus pandemic. Podcast broadcaster Brett Oakley got things moving, gave the program a name, and the program was launched.
This coming weekend with be the third time in three months that volunteers get together to cook for others in the community. Sampson said he hopes volunteers use some of those old recipes, from the cookbook.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.