Monday, October 6, 2008

Contest Entry: Alaska Trivia

This bit was sent in by Purrpurrkoshkamb:
In 1926 13-year-old Bennie Benson designed the state flag.

The Alaska Flag Story
On May 2, 1927, the Alaska Legislature officially adopted 13-year-old John Ben "Benny" Benson's Alaska flag -- "eight stars of gold on a field of blue." Benson had submitted his design in a 1926 American Legion contest for Alaska students.

The bill adopting the flag stipulated that Benson's design was selected "for its simplicity, its originality and its symbolism." The Legislature had the grace to incorporate much of Benson's poetic language into the bill, and this later became the basis for the stirring lyrics of the Alaska Flag song.

Benson was born at Chignik on Oct. 12, 1913, the son of an Aleut-Russian mother and a Swedish fisherman father. When Benson was 4, he and his younger brother and sister lost their mother to pneumonia. Benson was a student at the Jesse Lee Home in Seward at the time of the contest, which the American Legion held "in the public, private and Native schools of this Territory." According to the Alaska Blue Book's description of the story, Benson was prophetic in describing his design because he referred to the "future state of Alaska." He penciled these words along with his submission:

"The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly of the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear -- symbolizing strength."

The Legislature awarded Benson a watch and a $1000 scholarship, which he used for school in Seattle. He lived for many years in Kodiak, where he was an airplane mechanic. He died July 2, 1972.

Great bit of Trivia! Thanks for playing and your name is in the drawing for the fabulous pair of blueberry earrings!

As for pics of what you think Creed should look like, let me post a small excerpt from Chapter 1 of Chinook Wine and Sink Her

“Whoa there!”

Still clinging to the net, she felt the hard ground spank her bottom and not her back.

“Ooof!” The involuntary sound left her on a whoosh of air.

Strong hands held her under the armpits and dragged her backwards until only her feet and the long pole hung over the edge of the bank. Stunned, she didn’t have the presence of mind to protest, much less the time to tell him to keep his hands to himself, before the pole was jerked from her hands and the fish hauled out to lie on the bank beside her. In the next second she had eighty pounds of chocolate lab wiggling onto her lap.

“Manley, down!” She tried to push the eager lab off her.

All his attention was on her now and made the situation all the more awkward. She breathed a sigh of relief when he obeyed, lying at her side with his head across her thigh. “Good boy.”

“Nice catch,” the male voice said with a tone of amused appreciation.

“Yeah. Thanks.” Shifting uncomfortably, Linnet took stock of her situation. The stranger had made a good catch by not letting her fall into the river. Other than a bruised butt, she seemed relatively sound. Shaking her head to toss off her confusion, she looked at the man now crouching beside her as he gently worked to untangle the fish fighting for freedom.

“Thanks for ca-cat…ching me.” Her breath caught, making her stutter over the word as she stared into warm brown eyes only inches away. Hot coffee-colored eyes surrounded by thick dark lashes. The kind of lashes she wanted when dressing for a date.

Right, who was she kidding? It had been two years since a date had required clothing fancier than her current apparel. Two years since she’d had any kind of personal relations with a man. Two years since she’d even thought about wearing mascara, much less makeup of any kind. Wincing, she pushed that memory back into its deep, dark hiding place and used her hand to swish away a buzzing insect

“Um, yeah, thanks,” she muttered again and pulled her eyes away. Petting Manley to assure him she was fine gave her a moment to let her heart calm down.

“You okay?” Amusement still laced the warm voice and any cold she’d felt from the water or wet ground disappeared. Had she looked in a mirror and seen her face glow bright red she wouldn’t have been surprised. Funny, the blush seemed to cover her entire body if the all-over body heat was an indication. The only other explanation would be a hot-flash, but she was too young. “Would have been a nasty dunk if you’d fallen in. That silt is a pain to wash away. Not to mention to clean out of a weapon such as the one you have on your hip. Use it much?”

“Yeah, um, yes, I’m fine.” He was right. A swim in the Yukon could have resulted in her being dragged under and found somewhere out in the Bering Sea, if she’d ever been found at all, even with the life jacket she wore. Fallen trees and strong eddies were just some of the dangers lurking in the water. “I carry the weapon to scare off desperados and ravenous beasts.”

Nudging Manley aside, she placed her hands on the ground and pushed herself up. Let him wonder which category she placed him in. A strong hand gripped her arm and helped, doing most of the work of hauling her to her feet. “I just need to get this one’s statistics and put it back in.” The moment she was stable she stepped away, effectively shaking off the stranger’s hand as quickly as possible.

With supreme concentration, she crouched over the huge fish, using her feet to keep him from wiggling back into the water. Even though he appeared to be tiring, there was still plenty of power in his tail. Looked like his gills had been caught in the net. Probably the only reason she’d been able to pull him out at all. Nearly the size of a newborn beluga whale, she bet the damn thing would probably reach her shoulder if she stood it on its tail.

“I don’t want to leave him out of the water too long.” She hoped her explanation sufficed. Looking in the newcomer’s face again was just out of the question. There was work to be done and melting into a puddle at his feet wasn’t on her checklist.

“Let me help. He’s at least sixty-five, maybe even seventy-five pounds. Too bad you have to toss the mighty Chinook back. Good eatin’ there.” Large tanned hands expertly finished extracting the fish from the net.

Linnet passed him a handheld scale and he attached it to the monstrous mouth.

Protesting probably wouldn’t work, so she dug her tape measure from a pocket and stood when he did.

“Oh yeah, what a beauty,” the man crooned. “Seventy-six pounds. About twenty pounds under trophy weight, but still a mighty monster. The big kings like this don’t usually make it this far up river,” he added with a tone of respect.

Linnet stretched out her tape measure. Four feet, three inches. “The size of a small, skinny pre-teen.” It wasn’t easy to ignore how easily he handled the huge fish. Probably worked out often to have that kind of strength.

The man laughed and she snuck a peek at him. Eyes danced over sculpted cheeks dark with two day’s growth of beard. It would come in darker than his sun-streaked honey blond hair, which was long enough it touched the collar of his shirt in loose waves. “Where I come from, this is the size of a child about seven years old.”

Linnet felt her heart sink even as her eyes cut to his hands looking for a wedding band. No ring and no sign he’d ever worn one, but that didn’t mean anything. Besides, what did she care? She wasn’t out here to find a man, but rather to avoid men on the make in general. She stared at him again and noticed she had to look up. Not just aim her eyes up a little, but tilt her head as well. That was unusual. Must make him well over six feet. Six-four?

Concentrating on her job again, she quickly made her other measurements and jotted them down on her clipboard. Figures George hadn’t told her more about this mysterious friend of his. Probably never occurred to him to mention the man was a walking wet dream.

Good lord, where had that thought come from?

Plenty of clues in there!

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