Whittier was an experience all in itself, where people all lived in two apartment buildings- no houses. Most of the land belonged to the Alaska Railroad and none of it was for sale. 50 apartments in one building and 198 apartments in the other. 14 stories high, the Begich Towers was built by the military to house families, where the structure was made of 12-inch poured concrete walls, had a couple elevators and a tiring stairway. The police responded to a lot of domestic disturbances and burglaries in these apartment as the winter months were long. But the Whittier valley was beautiful and the town rested just below a glacier, attached to a massive ice field. Yet, Whittier also came with a curse, and not just the City Council made up of senior citizens I had to deal with, but the "Curse of the Cockroach". Now the cockroach, at least this breed, is not from Alaska and unable to survive the winters here. No, it came to Whittier in the whole baggage- servicemen's belongings, when they came home from the orient and were assigned to Whittier. For a time Whittier was a U.S. Navy and Army "secret" military base and only reachable by the railroad. The train journeyed through two tunnels back then and the longest was 3.2 miles long.
Now once the infamous roach arrived here it couldn't leave the building, so it multiplied and multiplied. I'm not joking when I say there were millions of these pesky things living between the walls of the towers. The kids used to go into the kitchen, turn the lights on and start stomping the little pests that would scurry about once discovered. Over time it seemed they grew too smart for the roach traps you bought at the store, but we still put them out and tried different baits.
Another difficulty in living in Whittier was everyone how everyone else knew their neighbors little secrets and problems as sound carried so well within the walls of the Towers. Yes, Whittier was truly an Alaskan experience and now my oldest son, John, has come to learn about Whittier's problem and trials since joining the police department there. But, it has now become his second job, a part-time thing, since he became part of the U.S. Marshal Service and moved to Girdwood with his large family. Still, my time there taught me a lot about running a small town and its politics, dealing with its problems and working with the Alaska Railroad, and assorted state and federal agencies. This would all be a benefit to me becoming a state gambling investigator., where I retired in 1994 and eventually took up writing. One of these days I might even write about Whittier, but not right away.
I look back over my career in law enforcement and feel very fortunate to have been a police officer in Alaska. I'm not sure I could've handled working in the Lower 48, so many people to deal with in most communities. I liked knowing the people, their families and trying to work with them when troubles developed. Back then, it wasn't mandatory you had to make an arrest when responding to a domestic disturbance, and I could help the couple work things out. If not, I talked one or the other into leaving the house for the night without having to haul them off to jail. That's unless physical harm was done, then one or the other would usually spend the night in jail. I've handled serious cases where a partner was either seriously injured or even killed, only to hear the offender feel so sorry for what they had done in the heat of anger or a drunken outrage. Suicides were always the worst, especially when you knew the victim or accidental deaths caused by alcohol or drugs. In a small town a police case belongs to the officer, from his response to the trial. The investigation is all his, anything that occurred on his shift. You learn a lot working in small towns from working a sexual assault to a murder, or dealing with someone who had mental problems or relied to heavily on booze and drugs. Churches in small towns were also unique, to which Mona and experienced a wide range of delights and problems. From North Pole, we moved to Dillingham, to Oregon and Arizona and back to Skagway, Alaska. Then on to Seward, to Eagle River and then to Whittier. Then we came back to interior Alaska and moved to Fairbanks for 11-years before coming here to Moose Pass. On the job with the State of Alaska I have seen most of this beautiful state, flying in bush planes and driving every highway the state offers. Yes, I have been fortunate, for this land is incredibly beautiful, though still very wild and most of it unsettled.
Well enough on that, now lets hit the news: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Again Wins Israel's Election"...."Audit of California Lottery Finds Over $305,000 in Improper or Dubious Spending".... Misinformation Drives Measles Outbreak Among Ultra- Orthodox Jews: Saying Pig DNA being used, or Other Vaccines Contain Cells of Aborted Human Fetuses".... "Japan Locates Their Crashed F-035 Fighter, But Unable to Locate the Pilot"...."March Temperatures in Alaska 20 Degrees Hotter Than Usual"...."White House Reports Lowest Unemployment Rate for Women in a Decade"....."Historic Blizzard May Dump Up to 2 Feet of Snow Across Central U.S.".... " 8 Suspects Under Arrest for Kidnapping US Tourist in Uganda: She is Now Safe"...."Mystery E.coli Outbreak Expands; 96 People Sickened in 5 US States".... "German Police Raid Islamic Organization Over Suspected Hamas Support".... "Federal Judge Threatens to Block Carnival Line Cruise Ships From Docking in U.S. Ports".... "International Criminal Court Won't Investigate U.S. Forces For War Crimes in Afghanistan".... "Julian Assange Arrested by British Authorities After Ecuador Declines Further Asylum for Assange, Following 7 Years of Living Under their Protection".... "Texas Senate Approves Bill to Stop Taxpayer Funding of Abortions".... "Israel's Military Completes Large Scale Drill to Improve Readiness for War".... "Anti Semitic Fliers Found in University of North Carolina's Library"
I was going to take a couple weeks off from writing, but yesterday I began my new book. It is a story based in Seward, where I was on the police department for 4 years. Seward was also where I was injured and retired the first time, but I later came back to work to become the police chief at Whittier. I haven't decided on whether on not my main character will follow this route as I am only on the first chapter. Fictional characters, but I use about 90% or more of my actual cases. Because of being the southern hub for the Seward Highway, a direct route from Anchorage and a major tourism stop. I made a lot of arrests and conducted quite a few serious investigations. Public drinking was allowed back then, bars closed at 5 a.m. and re-opened at 8 a.m. Fireworks were allowed, drunkenness and drugs were a serious problem, and it was a fisherman's paradise for halibut, the various salmons and cod. Seward's 4th of July celebration and the Mount Marathon Race attracted thousands of people. Even the Anchorage Hell's Angels would travel south to join in the festivities. During one such night holiday, I was working my third 12-hour shift and suddenly found myself in a large bar with 15-angels and their prospects on one side facing off against about 30 locals. Guess who was standing between them. I knew guns were about to be drawn and a massive shooting about to occur, with me in the middle. Will the Lord blessed me that day and I was able to talk both sides down. Even got the two leaders to shake hands and then escorted the bikers out. I was very thankful that night to have my angelic protectors. Having an older brother who was an outlaw biker also helped in my dealing with these motorcycle enthusiasts. That was also the year the U.S.S Alaska, a new Trident Submarine came to port for the 4th of July and 15,000 people were allowed to tour the massive sub. Mona, our oldest daughter Elizabeth and I took the tour, though I was a bit dreary-eyed, but was stunned at the size of this sub. 360 feet long and we walked right in amongst their lethal cargo of nukes and torpedoes. I was amazed by how much we were allowed to see. I found out later the Army Investigators who toured the sub wrote the Navy up on numerous security violations. But I can say the taxpayers were happy to see where all the money was going. Nearly every sailor on that submarine had his college degree and that had surprised me. They were all techies and most didn't want to become officers because of the service time they would have to promise to put in. But, a real fine group of young men. Elizabeth got to simulate the firing of a missile, which was also pretty cool. I think we were aimed to hit the City of Anchorage, didn't want to alarm China or Russia. Yes, that was a very busy summer and as usual I worked the midnight shift by myself. I still believe I was offered the job because of my size. They hired me over the phone while the department was having problems with the Longshore Union and things had turned violent.
Well, that's all for now. Writing these police books have brought back a lot of memories, some good and some bad. But, I did learn a lot.
May the Good Lord bless your weekend and your prayers be answered favorably. BILL