SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column: Humor




December 27, 2017
Wednesday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Just about once a week, I get an email that reads something like this:

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Dear Mr. Kiffer. 

I am coming to Ketchikan on 7-17-18 on the Plus-Sized Princess.
I will be in Ketchikan for six or seven hours.
I want to pan for gold. 
Can you tell me where to find gold in Ketchikan?
Sincerely, Buckminster "Bucky" Dimmsdale.

No, that's not his real name. I'm not callous enough to hold someone up to public ridicule from the three people besides me who actually read my ramblings just because this Mr. Dimmsdale sent me an email.

And why is it that people feel a need to tell you their "nick" name when it is an obvious shrinkage of their full name. You know, Joseph "Joe" Jackson, et al. There should be a rule that says you only do that when it's not an obvious cognomenal contraction. Like Joseph "Aloysius" Jackson, et al. Otherwise, you don't need to tell me that someone named Buckminster - if that is indeed someone's real name  - goes by "Bucky."

But, as usual, I digress.

Back to the personages who wants to find "gold" in Ketchikan.

For the love of Soapy Smith, I want to be helpful to people taking the trouble to break out from their severely proscribed lives long enough to come visit Our Fair Salmon City. After all, a million plus folks come here every year and I want them to have a good enough time that they go home and tell two friends, who then visit and tell two friends, who then visit.....and you get the point.

You see, I own a local business and I want to ensure that people keep coming to our little town to spend their money. That, by the way, is the number six reason on surveys that people say they come to the Alaska to do: To spend money. It moves up to number three when you modify it to  "spend Alaska money." You know, mink fur and the like.

Anyway, I have always wanted to do my utmost to make sure that as many visitors to Ketchikan have a good time as possible. That is why, as an elected official, I feel it is my uttermost duty to fund as many public restrooms as possible. Because survey after survey after survey put "finding a public toilet" is number two on every visitor's wish list.

But it is always a challenge when they want to know where the gold is. I understand their interest. My great grandfather came here in the early 1890s looking for exactly the same thing. And he found it, sort of, on Prince of Wales and up the Unuk River. Actually, Great Grandfather Hart didn't find the actual gold. He just found the places where the gold was. That's why I gnash my teeth when I see stories about the  Niblack Mine or the Sulferets Mine (in Canada). And that's why I still live in Ketchikan and not in a villa somewhere frittering away my trust fund faster than a Getty.

Seriously, I have always felt that I would make a "good steward of wealth." I wouldn't spend it unwisely on multiple Maseratis (one would be sufficient) and I wouldn't spend hours shooting Baccarat in Monaco.

Scratch that, I guess you don't "shoot" Baccarat. Its rules are somewhat different, according to the Google Gamblesphere. Not that I have ever played it.

"There was an old card game that lived in a shoe!"

Well, maybe not that different. Anyway, I digress. Again.

I was talking about how I would be a "benevolent steward" of the unconscionable wealth that life could give me "any time now."

I would actually give away a big chunk to worthy causes. There are lots and lots of worthy causes out there. I get earnest letters from thousands of them the last two weeks of every December. It is shocking how many good causes that are out there, just a postage meter away. 

I would like to have enough money to give one dime to all the charities of the world. Like Rockefeller used to do with all his grandchildren. What? You believed that old fable of him giving out dimes to random unrelated children? 


At any rate, after giving away the tax deductible maximum in charitable donations, my one splurge would be to have a lovely breakfast view of something other than Gravina Island. Yeah, that and a private jet. No more airport line-standing for this guy.

Several years ago, when Powerball was up to something like $1.5 billion, we bought a few tickets and then sat around fantasizing about how we would spend the money. Natch, we didn't win, so I won't bore you with those fantasies. Although some did involve never eating in the same restaurant twice for the rest of my life.

But, of course, you don't care about my inability to win Powerball. Like "Bucky" Dimmsdale, you are patiently waiting for me to tell you where to find "the gold" in Ketchikan.

Sure, I suppose I can tell them (and you) where the gold is, if I was so inclined. But that would presuppose that I know where the gold is in Ketchikan. That would also presuppose there is any actual gold in Ketchikan.  When I was growing up there was some gold. It was in nugget watch bands at The Trading Post. The Trading Post was always a splashy place when I was little. How could it not be when the owners were named Babe and Boots!

The truth is - sadly - that there isn't any gold in Ketchikan. We aren't sitting on a giant mother lode that will make us all filthy rich.

That's another weird phrase, "filthy rich." I can't imagine why I would want to be "filthy rich." I would settle for "cleanly rich." Or even just "Richie Rich."

But, even if there was a big pile of gold here, I probably wouldn't tell you. And I certainly wouldn't tell "Bucky" Dimmsdale.

That's what sort of flummoxes me about all these good people who write to me asking where to "find the gold." Like I would tell them, if I knew. I am sooooo not that helpful. 

And, of course, the last thing they want to hear is that the best place to find gold in Ketchikan is in the pockets of the visitors.



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