Letters to the Editor

Poem: Powerful Joe, Eat-em-up Frank and the Snake River Bank

Powerful Joe and Eat-em-up Frank

put all their gold in the Snake River Bank

knowing full well it was managed by thieves

who had every intent to leave miners to grieve

when all clumps of doré', nuggets and dust

vanished south in September in the outbound rush.


One might wonder why two men of the earth

would deposit their gold in a bank with no worth,

managed by those with the ethics of snakes

and were always intent on the lure of the make

to sequester that which someone else owned

and run south with the cash from those they had boned.

But Powerful Joe and Eat-em-up Frank

had a devious plan which they had planned to prank,

a scheme they had nurtured for many a year

since the days when Nome had been up to its ears

in stampeders and cons, cardsharps and men

who ran the saloons and the brothels and when

they had bags of gold, nuggets and dust

with no place to secure them and try as they must

it was dangerous to walk the streets loaded with ore


for there were men who would kill as part of the chore

to eat during winter when food prices were high

with no hopes of a dimming ‘til the June tide.

In the boom days of summer, when steamships came in,

Powerful Joe had the foresight to bring

lumber in board feet and convert it with nails

to brothels and stores, saloons and skid trails,

to keep the city supplied with foodstuff and booze

from June to September, when no one would snooze.

Land was not cheap, so the city built up,

floor upon floor, like the piling of cups

with a sturdy foundation sunk into the sod

so the structures would shift only when God

would make the earth shake on mankind’s last day,

and all would be gone, in one of two ways.

Eat-em-up Frank was the man with the plan

to design all the buildings on permafrost land,


be they banks or saloons, brothels or stores

which sold general goods, coal and what’s more,

he left room for the alleys and privy back doors

to dump their residue onto Norton Sound shores.

As Powerful Joe and Eat-em-up Frank


knew all of the cons and disreputable banks,

it was odd, the local folks said,

to deposit their gold in a bank underfed

with trust that one day would abscond with the cash

leaving nothing in Nome but a bank vault of trash.

As all had predicted, that day came at last,

when the board of directors left with the cash

on the last ship at the end of the season

slipping aboard for a very good reason

with burlap bags stuffed with all they could hold

doré, nuggets and pouches of gold.

And how odd it was, without saying thanks,

Powerful Joe and Eat-em-up Frank

had left on a steamer the previous week

without saying ‘goodbye’ and proceeded to sneak

aboard the outgoing ship with a suitcase apiece

to follow the path of south flying geese.

Then the next June, when the Norton Sound broke

its cover of ice that anyone spoke

of the scam that had sent the two men heading south

and the tale of their scam was recounted by mouth

how Powerful Joe and Eat-em-up-Frank

has duped the board of directors of the Snake River Bank.

Both the men had been watching the town

lose population and knew it was down

to the few who still dreamed so it was time

to flee south on a ship with more than a dime

and abscond with the Snake River Bank gold

leaving the bank unaware its booty been stole.

Powerful Joe and Eat-em-up Frank

had been the men who constructed the bank.

They had planned to leave Nome with no travail,

so they left a plank in the vault lacking its nails

and replaced all the gold in the burlap bags

with stones and then southward did shag.

It was not known when the Snake River Bank

board of directors discovered the prank.

But it was learned from the news from the south

and the story spread from newspaper to mouth

how Powerful Joe and Eat-em-up Frank

had scammed all the scammers of the Snake River Bank.

— Steve Levi


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