Today’s junk is tomorrow’s treasures

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Wednesday, March 07, 2007

When I opened up the newspaper the other morning (Clarion , Feb. 15) and read: “Junk has some value; High scrap price may help rid borough of old cars,” it touched a sensitive nerve.

I remembered when Alaska first talked about moving our capital to a new location, and people in the valley sold their properties to new development for high prices and we lost a “gold mine” of old cars from the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. In Wasilla was a wrecking yard (not junk yard) that old car enthusiasts loved to go seek out old car parts. When it sold to become a subdivision of new homes, many people bought what they could afford and drug it home.

In later years, Anchorage city council took on a mission to remove all the “junk” cars from properties within the city limits. Some of those treasures that were saved, were now at risk. The council claimed that if it was not licensed and/or operating, it was to be classified as junk and sold for scrap metal. Fortunately, some of the owners of those vehicles fought back and were able to save these treasures, even if it was only called “Yard Art.”

Some might see an unoperating vehicle as just a piece of junk; others can see what it is or could be, a true piece of beauty. That beauty might be in the sleek style of a now 75-year-old 1932 Ford, a 50-year-old 1957 Chevy, a ’60s muscle car, or any other vehicle depending on your taste and era.

If you have trouble remembering someone’s love of these cars, just stand next to an old man as his heart beats a little faster or watch a child’s eyes light up at the Progress Days Parade when they see them pass by. It is almost as patriotic as saluting the flag.

Better yet, visit one of the local car events. Harley Davidson has one, or the Bill Banta Memorial Car Show where you can actually touch these cars and maybe feel their spirit. Why not take a drive to Anchorage the first Sunday in August each year for the Jay Ofsthun Memorial Show & Shine, where more than 300 antiques, muscle cars, street rods, trucks, classics and more show up to help us remember our good old days.

Yes, make your home and yard beautiful by removing junk, but don’t forget the past by removing and erasing real treasures. Every time I drive by Sterling’s Moose Horn Garage as I go to Soldotna, I miss seeing Nellie’s ’39 Pontiac sit up on the hill and look down watching the traffic go by. Fortunately it was not crushed or sold as scrap, but is being rebuilt and brought back to life one more time.

Bill Lowe


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