In 1951, the southern Kenai Peninsula had two fairs, one in Homer and one in Ninilchik.
According to a newspaper story on Aug. 11, 1951, plans were being finalized for that year’s Homer fair, with the Skyway Theatre offering space for baking and canning displays, as well as textile, clothing, knitting and crocheting exhibits.
That also was the year Mary Hawkins of Ninilchik founded the Ninilchik State Fair, collaborating with the community’s Parent Teacher Association. It was held in the Ninilchik School basement.
As long as people have been visiting the Homer Spit, they have camped outdoors. Archaeologists have found shell middens at Green Timbers, the former forest on the Spit destroyed by the 1964 earthquake when the Spit sank 5.9 feet. In 1896, 800 miners on their way to the gold fields of Hope and Sunrise camped on the Spit. In the July 8, 1964, Homer News, Dr. John Fenger, a city council member, found some campers at Green Timbers and had to warn them of an upcoming 20-foot tide.
One has only to look as far as the Homer Garden Club for a definition of “perennial.” The club’s roots can be found in a letter written to local gardener Shirley Forquer from Lois Schneyer in February 1984. It has been growing ever since.
Most everyone knows the story of the naming of Homer, and how in April 1896, 50 men and one woman, Della Banks, came with the Alaska Gold Mining Company and settled on the Homer Spit. Needing a name for a post office, the crew decided to name it after Homer Pennock, one of the group.
Not as well known, though, are earlier incarnations of Homer: Uzintun, or “extends out into distance,” the Dena’ina name for the Spit; Mys Ugolnoy, or Coal Cape, the Russian name; Coal Bay, a mining camp at the base of the Spit; and even Andersonville, a tent camp.
By McKibben Jackinsky
With work already begun on a new harbormaster office, the future of the existing one is uncertain. (See related story, page 1.)
“If you want my two cents, this building needs to be removed and we should create parking in this area… until a higher and better use comes along,” said Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins.
Carey Meyer, the city’s public works director, is of a similar mind.
“Maybe the old site can be — and this is a decision for the city council and others — used for additional parking,” said Meyer.
Forty-five years ago humans first walked on the moon. By 1979, it’s hard to believe that with advances in science and technology, including satellite broadcasts, Homer didn’t have a radio station. A live broadcast on Aug. 4, 1979, changed all that when Beverly Munro, one of the founding members of Kachemak Bay Broadcasting Inc., walked up to a microphone in the old Homer High School gym, and said, “This is KBBI, Homer, Alaska, signing on the air.”
From Seldovia to Homer to Happy Valley, Fourth of July events have been a long-time tradition. Seldovia turns its Independence Day into homecoming for far-flung Seldovians as well as a good old-fashioned, small-town festival. The day’s events include a parade, picnics and events like three-legged and sack races and the popular canoe jousting in the harbor.
Sailors have been coming to the shores of Kachemak Bay for, well, who knows how long. Riding the waves, moved along by the current, driven by the wind.
Only makes sense a club and races would follow. The front page of the Aug. 17, 1967, Homer News carried the headline, “Sailing Club for Homer?” The previous Sunday sailboats from Anchorage were in Homer for the Regatta Day races, an event coinciding with a two-day silver salmon derby.
On June 6 for Mary Epperson Day, artists Judy Wynn and Laura and Jennifer Norton once again transformed Epperson’s Etude Studio. A swirling keyboard and other designs decorate it.
Etude hasn’t always been a music studio, and since its start as a small trailer in the 1950s, has been a house and store, with additions over the years.
The current residents of Kachemak City — all 472 of them according to the 2010 census — weren’t the first ones interested in this small stretch of land east of Homer.
Russians took a liking to the area more than 200 years ago and set up house near a settlement of Dena’ina. No physical evidence of that community can be found, but local historian and author Janet Klein said contemporary authors suggest the site may have been the area known today as Kachemak City.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, the newspaper is looking at some milestone events in Homer’s past.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past.
If it’s May, it’s graduation season, a time to celebrate what’s been accomplished and a time to begin something new.
“Homer High School has prepared us to go on to bigger, better things: It has given us our start in life, and for this we will always be grateful,” said the HHS class of 1964 in their yearbook, the Mariner Log, half a century ago.
July 1, 1964: University of Alaska Board of Regents approves request by the Kenai City School District to form Kenai Peninsula College.
1966: Kenai Peninsula College offers classes through Homer Branch.
1970: Gail Sibson, later known as Gail Ammerman, becomes part-time coordinator at a salary of $300.
1976: Gail Ammerman is the first Homer Branch graduate, receiving an associate of arts degree.
1982: Jim Riggs becomes full-time coordinator of the Homer Branch. The Homer Branch is in the basement of what’s now Bay Realty.
When the Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage awarded degrees or certificates to 151 people last Wednesday night, the event marked not just a milestone for the women and men graduating. It marked a milestone for the college, too. This year, Kenai Peninsula College celebrates its 50th anniversary. The campus that started out as the Homer Branch has been a part of furthering adult education on the lower Kenai Peninsula since 1966.
Yes, indeed, there is a Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival (see related story, page 1). The arrival of winged visitors from the tip of South America, Central America and all along the Pacific Coast as they make their way to northern nesting grounds is cause for more than a festival, however. It marks an opportunity for important citizen science with significance beyond the present day and beyond Kachemak Bay.
More fossil finds by Homer beachcombers have expanded scientists’ knowledge of the animals that lived here during an interglacial period from 27,000 to 55,000 years ago — what’s called stage 3, between the last two Penultimate and Naptowne glaciations. Radiocarbon tests were done for a horse tibia found by Bryan Zak and an unidentified ungulate — hoofed animal — found by this author.
It’s been almost a year since Peter Zollars came upon the metal cross along the beach of a Kachemak Bay island. Since then, he and local historian Janet Klein have been searching for information about its origin and purpose.
They have been able to find little information, making it clear there is more to be known.
“We don’t know its age or its origin,” said Zollars. “Of course, it raises the question why this piece is showing up in such a remote place. … The more we talk, the more I puzzle, the more we all puzzle over it.”
Stories about Homer’s bygone days fill the pages of books. On April 3, the public had an opportunity to hear the stories told by the ones that wrote them at “Meet the People,” an event co-sponsored by the Pioneers of Alaska and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.
Introduced by CACS Executive Director Beth Trowbridge and CACS volunteer Daisy Lee Bitter, Larene Tepa Hansen Rogers, Joan Gordon Edens, Laura Lofgren Barton and Wilma Shelford Williams shared accounts of growing up in Homer and raising their own families on the shores of Kachemak Bay.
It was a packed house at the Homer Elks Lodge on Monday, as residents gathered to wish the city a happy 50th birthday.
Stories of the community’s early days preceding incorporation, personal memories of arriving and growing up in the area, the reliance early residents had on each other, changes that have taken place, the difference the 1964 earthquake made and much more drew laughs, questions and more stories as emcee Dax Radtke passed the microphone among the crowd.
In a normal news week in 1964, the announcement that the city of Homer’s incorporation vote had been certified would have been huge news. Something happened to shove that story of Homer’s birthday to the lower corner.