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How The World Wags

Vox Populi #6
By Dave Kiffer

October 24, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - Recently, a reader emailed in to find out what "Vox Populi" really means. It's Latin (I feel sort of comfortable saying that, even though none of the original Latin speakers are alive to confirm that diagnosis). And it generally means "voice of the people" or "the people speak" although I firmly expect to hear from some dead language expert who will correct that assumption.

In my defense, many, many, many publications (physical and Ethernet alike) use "Vox Populi" as the title for their letters to the editor feature. So I do too (and I can hear my mother asking that "if all my little friends wanted to jump off a cliff would I" etc etc etc).


The recent column about movies and TV shows filmed in Ketchikan brought a lot of responses. Several people wrote to alert me about a Charlie Brown cartoon special (either Run or Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown) in which the characters are careening down a river and they pass what is clearly a cartoon representation of Ketchikan's Creek Street! I will continue to look for that one.

Also, several folks noted that my efforts to locate "Misty Isle Out" were really lame. They pointed out that a copy of the movie is at the Ketchikan Public Library! Considering my wife works there, that is wonderful example of just how lazy columnists are!

Quite a few folks wrote in to comment on "Cry Vengeance" and the various continuity issues. Such as clothes being different at the end of the scenes or cars that the protagonist are driving in changing in mid scene. Apparently, a airplane even changes in mid scene. I also erred when I said the director/lead actor was George Stevens not Mark Stevens. Hard to imagine that I count have confused the director of "Cry Vengeance" with the one from "Giant"! Although just the thought of Rock Hudson, James Dean, Chill Wills, Dennis Hopper and Elizabeth Taylor warring over Ketchikan's "oil patch" is probably worthy of a future column.

Speaking of "Cry Vengeance" someone on EBAY just spent more than $50 (including shipping) on an original lobby poster of the movie. No, it wasn't me. I was tempted, but the only lobby poster I'd want would be one from one of Ketchikan's theaters.

A couple of readers offered their memories of the filming of the "Timber Tramps" (not in Ketchikan but pretty close). It also had a few continuity challenges (one characters clothes changed between the beginning and the end of a bar fight) and a screamingly funny line about how the weather is always sunny and blues skied here.

I also got a charming email from a woman who is a big fan of Joel McCrea fan and once visited Ketchikan interested in info about the filming of "Silver Horde" here. She was disappointed that the tour guides knew nothing about the film and its Ketchikan connection. Given the quality of some of the tours in the summer, I'm surprised they were even able to get the name of the town right. But that's another column. Anyway, it's always fun to see just how far the reach of the internet is. I get some pretty interesting responses to these little missives that I type up in our fair Salmon City.


It was great to get emails from a whole bunch of other folks who remember riding motorcycles around here when they were kids. I heard from "posses" of older kids (than me) and younger as well. It's kinda sad that the current generation is not getting the same education we got. I have to think that learning how to navigate Ketchikan's rain slick, pot-holed streets on two wheels made us better drivers when we graduated to four wheels.

Almost makes me wish I could win the lottery and open a big motorcycle shop like the one - Perry's -  we used to have in town. But I'd just go broke because it seems the younger generation prefers to do their "bike" riding on PlayStation. Go figure.


Another example of the reach of the internet (SITNEWS!) is that I received two emails from people associated with the "City of Ketchikan", a World War II B-29 that was piloted by a former Ketchikan resident. Given the sacrifices that those men made in the big war, it makes me very happy to know that they were pleased to see a crew photo on the internet 60 years later.


Well, the former Ketchikan PBY didn't sell again on EBAY. This time the highest bid was just a hair under $200,000. If that remains too rich for your blood, then another PBY is being "shared" out on EBAY. For about 16,000 British pounds (roughly $30,000) you can own 1/20 of a functioning PBY. (oh yes, there is also a roughly $200 monthly fee that covers maintenance and other stuff). What does that money buy you?

According to the listing:

Firstly, all members can fly free to air shows and events which the Catalina is attending, whenever possible. Secondly, all members have an annual allowance of 'at cost' flying (GBP £600 per hour for the first 3 hours). Pilot members of the Group can use this time to train and qualify as pilot on the Catalina - after which they can pilot the aircraft to events. And all members can pool this time and join one of the annual members' tours, on which a number of members will make a tour for a few days or weeks on a route of their choice.

 There remains one share left! Call now! Operators are standing by!

Maybe it's just me but roughly $1,000 an hour for flight time seems a little high. I know that it costs around $1,500 an hour to rent a Lear Jet, but that doesn't come on top of a $30,000 "share" purchase. Most places it costs about $100 an hour to rent a Cessna but that's the low end of plane rental.  At $1,000 an hour, you would use up what it would have cost to purchase the other PBY within 200 hours. On the other hand, the $200 a month is paying for someone else to maintain and store the thing and that is always priceless. If old planes are anything like old boats or old cars, then the upkeep is sky high!


Several folks have written or called to ask me the name of the airline that I loath so much more than "Elastic" Airlines. I repeat: It is named after a geographical area. It is not called Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, or Midwest Airlines. You can draw your own conclusions. The best news is that there is now another regional airline that will get my family from Seattle to Albuquerque without schlepping bags and waiting in line. Hasta la vista "Cheap Sheep" Airlines!


I received several comments about my "suggestion" that electoral tiebreakers should involve firearms. I never endorsed such a policy, I merely indicated that some voters would be pleased if the duelers shot each other to death. I did not advocate any current elected officials bringing weapons to meetings to resolve tie votes. Even in Alaska - where newborns get a tattoo of the 2nd Amendment on their rumps - that is at least marginally against the law.



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

Dave Kiffer ©2005

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