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What's junk to one person may mean survival to another

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2004

In response to Coleen Bowers' letter of May 7, I would like to say that it is sad to see such an attitude bordering on arrogance. A self-admitted "recent transplant" moves here, and the first thing she wants to do is tell us how to live.

And even worse, would like to pass laws to force us to live up to her high standards. As a lifelong (43 years) Alaskan whose grandparents moved here in '35, I feel that maybe I can provide some insight for Ms. Bowers.

First, it is very hard for a longtime Alaskan to throw anything away. It was hard to get things here. We had a burn barrel, but it really did not get used much. The scrap paper was fire starter, organic material went to the compost pile and the rest of the "trash" went to the "dump" at the base of the hill on the back 40.

I wonder how many times over my grandfather's life he had to go back to the "dump" to retrieve something just to get by. I do not think he ever even sold a car or truck. They were lined up behind the barn, just in case a part might be needed.

A few years before he passed, my grandfather called me and said that he knew he was not long for this world. He told me that he had collected a few things that he would like to pass on to me. I went to see him and with great respect and admiration, I accepted a few wheelbarrows full of scrap steel. Honestly, that pile of scrap was worthless at the time, but it was like gold to my grandfather.

And look at Carl Haller, what a sly fox! He built a virtual mountain of scrap steel that for years was not worth much, but now is finally worth a tidy sum in today's market. One person's "junk" is another person's treasure.

Yes, there are probably a few abandoned cars around, but not every old car is abandoned or junk. Few people realize how much some of these old-timers can be worth.

Finally, what appalls me is the lack of respect you have for your fellow peninsula residents. Why do people think they have the right to tell others how to live?

There are city ordinances and local covenants that regulate some communities, and you can live in those areas if you choose. However, some of us choose to live outside of those boundaries and without those types of restrictions and find it very livable.

Let's make a deal, I won't come to your house and tell you when it's time to cut your grass and you can, hopefully, find the grace to allow us to live our lives our own way.

Scott Hamann, Nikiski



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