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Michael Carey

Back in the old days when Alaska had summer, I got up on a bright, warm morning and headed for the Daily News on foot.

I had been reading a memoir by a prominent New York writer and pieces of it were rattling around my brain. The writer was born and raised in small-town Illinois and wrote at length about his ancestors who settled there after the Civil War.

The ancestors were deeply religious. Many followed the teachings of the famed evangelist Alexander Campbell, a pioneer of the giant revival meeting...

Michael Carey

Ron Paul was in Anchorage Sunday evening. He spoke to an overflow crowd of 1,200 in a third floor ballroom of the Dena'ina Center. Most of those in attendance were under 40 and casually if not roughly dressed. Some young couples brought small children.

Paul, casually dressed himself in a bright red shirt, was far better alone at the lectern than he has been in debate with other Republican presidential candidates. The debate format left Paul little time to develop his beliefs -- and he was frequently marginalized by moderators who wanted to highlight the contrast between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum and Romney...

Michael Carey

Peter De Vries, who wrote for The New Yorker, said reality is what won't go away no matter how hard you try to make it go away. For Americans in 2012, what won't go away is the growing income disparity between rich and poor and the decline in American social mobility.

In 2012, if you are born poor, you probably will die poor. Europe, to the astonishment of American conservatives, has greater social mobility than the United States, according to academic and government research.

I know conservatives despise the '60s, for them a decade of self-indulgence, narcissism, protest and dope that wounded a great country. But the '60s is the last time Americans had a serious discussion of the poor and social mobility...

Michael Carey

It had been a tough day for Jennifer Prater, but Jennifer, pale and tired, looked like she had known other tough days. A small, thirty-something redhead, Jennifer is one of three plaintiffs in a wages-and-hours lawsuit she and two other dancers, strippers, filed against their former employers in federal court. They are asking for $324,000 in back pay and other compensation.

Jennifer was on the witness stand Tuesday -- and on the receiving end of cross- examination by Bradley Shafer, attorney for the defendants, the Crazy Horse Saloon and Fantasies on 5th Avenue...

Michael Carey

Snow fell lightly from a leaden sky and began to accumulate in front of my house. Winter had come to Anchorage. But in my imagination, I was atop a cut bank along Carey Lake, south of Lake Minchumina, where my dad had a trapping cabin, a high-school kid alongside Fabian peering into the gloaming on a gray afternoon almost 50 years ago...

Michael Carey

A while back, I visited Fairbanks, my home town. The morning I left for the Golden Heart City, I was leafing through the Daily News when I saw an obituary for a 43-year-old Fairbanks construction worker. I didn't know him but recognized his name. I know his father and decided I should pay my respects by attending the funeral.

The family has deep roots in both Fairbanks and Bush Alaska. I knew the crowd of mourners would be large and include many Alaska Natives.

So it was. St. Matthew's Church in downtown Fairbanks was overflowing. Some of the mourners were elderly Natives with ties to the dead man's mother, but there were young people and children too...

Michael Carey

The U.S. Post Office is dying a lingering death.

Although a white-hair, I probably will live long enough to attend the wake and share my grief with the mourners.

What memories I have of the post office in the Fairbanks federal building! What dreams of walking up the broad steps, entering the main hall, and struggling to open a mailbox with a key that will not fit! I have had these dreams for years.

My Dad, Fabian, was a stamp collector. Purchasing the latest commemoratives at the post office was part of his routine. I learned American history from those stamps - and world geography from Fabian's collection of European, African, and Far Eastern stamps, which he obtained by mail from auction houses in New York...

Michael Carey

FAIRBANKS -- "Here, look these over" my friend Karen said.

"These" were a couple dozen Fairbanks newspapers from 1907 in a cardboard box. Karen had purchased the papers when they came up for sale in Fairbanks a few days earlier.

The papers were clean and undamaged. No single individual could have saved them 104 years. They must have been owned -- and protected -- by several generations of Alaskans. Given the fires and floods the Golden Heart City has suffered, the papers' survival was improbable...

Michael Carey

As a kid, I did a lot of flying with my Dad. He owned a Super Cub. In the '50s and '60s, an Alaskan with a Super Cub was a prince of the air, free to explore the territory far from the limited road system.

Fabian bought the plane primarily to travel between Fairbanks and his trap line near Lake Minchumina. Chartering wasn't prohibitively expensive but my Dad was frustrated by the vagaries of charter service, especially weather and pilots who didn't show because another trip was more lucrative.

"Whoever said, 'Patience is a virtue,' never waited for an airplane in Bush Alaska," Fabian warned me...

Michael Carey

The New York Times recently carried the obituary of Hughette Clark, age 104.

Hughette was the heir and daughter of Montana copper king William Clark, who at one point in his long life was among the 25 richest Americans. Her estate has an estimated value of $400 million, but as with heiress Doris Duke, money did not buy happiness. She spent decades as a recluse in her Manhattan home.

William Clark was born in 1839 and died in 1925. The dates tell you that Hughette, who lived into Barack Obama's presidency, had a father who was born when Martin Van Buren was president.

Pretty incredible...

Michael Carey