Feb. 21, 2011 — When life gives Mike Cranford black bananas, he eats them on oatmeal — much like someone would make lemonade out of life’s lemons. Cranford, or River Mike as he prefers to be called, has had to make the best of many tough circum stances in life. Black bananas are some of the least of his troubles.

If ever there was a man who came to Alaska to get away from it all, it is River Mike. He lives in a wall tent year-round with his 6-year-old malamute husky, Matty. On the East Fork of the Chena River, Mike finally has the life he wished for when he left Oklahoma about 26 years ago.

“Before I came to Alaska, I had never heard the word ‘sourdough,’ but I knew I wanted to be one,” he said. Now he knows the term doesn’t just refer to pancakes, which are a major portion of his diet.

Living on his own in a two-layer canvas tent among the spruce trees and a fresh water supply gives Mike a sense of freedom he didn’t have for the first 40 years of his life. Now he’s 65 and he plans to finish his life where he is.


Feb. 21, 1996 — BARROW — Residents of Barrow voted the town dry again. The margin in Tuesday’s special election was surprisingly large in the third vote on the subject in less than three years.

A total of 923 ballots were cast in favor of the ban, while 788 residents favored keeping alcohol legal. There were 61 questioned ballots, not enough to affect the outcome.

“I feel good for the community,” said former Mayor Don Long, who now represents the area in the Legislature.


Feb. 21, 1971 — The News-Miner did not print on this day. Here is an item from Feb. 20, 1971 — A proposal to create a transportation corridor through Alaska has been advanced by Sen. Henry M. Jackson, D-Wash., as a means of satisfying preservationists opposing the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Jackson, chairman of the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, made his proposal at a hearing on the Native land claims bill. His suggestion closely parallels one made by the NORTH extension of the Alaska Railroad north from Fairbanks Commission and submitted to three Alaska governors.

Under the senator's plan, the federal government would create and control a corridor at least 10 miles wide up to the North Slope along the route of the proposed pipeline.The corridor could carry the pipeline and a road.


Feb. 21, 1946 — NEW YORK — Five Eskimos, camping out in Madison Square Garden in an atmosphere of pre-fabricated log cabins, all-metal canoes and sing-song barkers, held a family council today to cope with a good neighbor crisis precipitated by California school children.

"The only Eskimo family in the United States" — so billed at the National Sportman's Show — was in danger of disillusioning the entire 40-student third grad eof the San Ysidro, Calif., grammar school , who had requested gifts ranging from polar bear skins to ivory.

Papa Bumaroon combed his extensive English vocabulary for suitably grave words. He looked at his family, brought here from Nome, Alaska, and said:

"My, we're in a spot."