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How The World Wags

By Dave Kiffer

August 26, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - An alert reader dropped an email to let me know that the old Ketchikan PBY is back on EBAY again. The deadline for bids is Monday. This time the opening bid has been lowered to $100,000 and there have been at least two bids tendered thus far. No clue what the "reserve" price is but you can bet it's well below the $250,000 price that drew no takers at least twice this summer. The estimate on getting it airworthy (in the pictures it's missing its horizontal stabilizer!) remains at $16,000. As before, bid early, bid often.
jpg Dave Kiffer column

If $100,000 is still a little too steep, you might consider another item that has been for sale at several points this summer: An RC model PBY. For about $600 you can have an already built PBY of your very own to fly around. And it's no small RC. The wingspan is 9 feet so it's plenty big enough buzz your friends and neighbors (almost big enough to be an ultra-light!). It needs to be "converted" to allow for water landings though

Heck if you're handy enough to do that then for a lot less you can bid on the plans to build your own 6- foot wingspan RC PBY. There are also about a dozen different sized traditional model airplane PBY kits available at any given time on EBAY. Everything from 7 inch wingspans to 45 inch wingspans. Brings back the smell of old airplane glue just thinking about it!

Another reader emailed to point out that $20 is apparently worth $17,500 on EBAY. The item in question was a 1929 $20 bill. But what made the bill interesting was that it was stamped "First National Bank, Ketchikan, Alaska" and signed by the bank president J.E. Berg in addition to the treasurer of the United States.

I collect old coins, but I know very little about old paper money. I know that in the 1800s it was not unusual for banks to issue their own paper money, but I have no idea why one would do it in the 20th century or even whether the federal government allows it anymore. If any readers have a clue, I'd llove to be enlightened.

Anyway, the bidding for this obviously rare item started at one cent and rapidly escalated. When the auction ended 16 bids later, the price was $17,500. Yes, the reserve price had been met.

What was also interesting about this item was that the description included a lengthy - and generally accurate - history of Ketchikan. Whoever was selling this item was obviously very familiar with Ketchikan. Overall, a very fascinating tip from a sharp-eyed reader.

A very important reader - my wife Charlotte - would like it noted that contrary to my column "Pyro-leeryia" our house is not overflowing with lit candles. That is true. But one must remain every vigilant if one as concerned about open flame as I am.

Another reader compared that column to "watching a campfire." I guess that means either it was very relaxing or that it was the literary equivalent to watching grass grow.

Speaking of my lovely and talented wife, she also spotted a North Dakota license plate this week which leaves us two plates (Delaware and Maine) from running the table. A friendly reader called to report that he had seen a Quebec license plate which is cool. Thus far this year, I have seen BC. Alberta, Manitoba, Yukon Territory and Ontario plates. And one from the state of Puebla in Mexico!

I received several calls, emails and even a letter regarding the Jay Hammond column "One of the Big Three." Alas, I no longer have the tape recording that I made of that interview nearly 25 years ago. Just one of those things that is important in retrospect. Besides, it's been my experience that most of the cassette tapes I saved from that era (my musical career!) have become almost unplayable anyway.

"Halibut Be Thy Name" also got a nice response from folks who have similar memories of "misunderstanding" a wee bit of the liturgy. My favorite was from a former Ketchikanite who also took "Jesus" to be "Cheese-itz."

He was running around a friends house using that word because it was one his father used frequently and because he'd heard "Cheese it" used on a cartoon. Unfortunately, his friend's mother was not amused and discussed it with his mother. Needless to say both words were quickly exorcised from his vocabulary. Kinda reminds me of the time we were played "field" hockey in our front yard and got in big, big, mondo big trouble for loudly calling the teams "The puckers" and "Them other puckers." But that of course is definitely another column.

BTW, I am still collecting anecdotes about my favorite subject: the general wackiness of our summer "guests." I'll release the results (and they are very wacky so far) in a column after the season.

Speaking of columns, this is my 52nd one for SITNEWS and that adds up to a whole year. Thanks for sticking with me and keep on keeping in touch.

Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2005

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