(masthead) All Seasons bed and breakfast inn, Fairbanks Alaska
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“We could not have had better food or been treated better.”
—Don & Judy, Bunker Hill IN

Mary's Stories

Birch Tree
Published Feb. 3, 2010 in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

Last summer we had a group of twelve people stay with us at the Inn. Fairbanks was the beginning point of a fifteen day tour of Alaska which included Denali, Talkeetna, Anchorage, Girdwood, and finished in Katami to see the bears. The tour group had a private Alaskan guide who accompanied them for the entire trip.

On departure day, the guide arrived at the Inn after breakfast and was helping them get their luggage loaded into the bus. The Inn has a large deck in front of the building canopied by a huge birch tree. The deck was a natural gathering place for the group to begin their journey on a nice fresh summer morning and to hear what I am sure was the first of many Alaska tales. The guide proceeded to tell the group the following story.

In July, 1923, President Warren Harding visited the Territory of Alaska. He and Mrs. Harding traveled with an entourage of sixty-eight people on a fifteen day tour that included Metlakatla, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Skagway, Seward, Anchorage, Wasilla, Willow, Nenana, Fairbanks, Cordova, and Sitka. From Seward the group boarded the railroad which had a private car for the Harding’s and is now on display at Pioneer Park. One of the purposes of President Harding’s trip to Alaska was to drive the golden spike to join the southern Seward end of railroad to the newly constructed northern end of the line that terminated in Fairbanks. After the spike driving ceremony in Nenana, the party continued on to Fairbanks arriving July 23, 1923.

In preparation for their arrival, the local folks undertook a beautification program to welcome the president. President Harding was scheduled to speak at Week’s field which was located between what is now 8th Avenue and Airport Way and at the Masonic Temple on 1st Ave. The beautification program consisted of planting birch trees at the streets edge along the route the president was to travel between his speeches.

President Harding died in San Francisco on August 2, 1923 less than two weeks after visiting Fairbanks. At the time of his death rumors circulated that he died from a cold he caught in Fairbanks or from food poisoning caused by clams he ate in Sikta. History now tells us he died of heart failure rather than from his adventure to Alaska. The guide finished his story by saying he believed the large birch tree they were standing under was one of the Harding trees.

While the tree in front of All Seasons is the largest birch tree I have ever seen, it is not as beautiful as it should be. It grows under power lines and has been severely pruned and chopped to keep it out of the electric lines. The trunk is amazing and has a large heart carved into it on the side that faces the street. If you want to come by and take a look, look high as the heart is at about head level. During the summer months when the tree is in full foliage it looks much better than in winter. In winter it looks a little snaggled-toothed with so many missing limbs.

I know some of the details in his story are real but I have no idea if the tree planting was an actual event. If anyone knows if the portion of his story about the trees is true I would be interested in knowing.

For those of you who knew my grandmother, Margaret Stephenson, here is a recipe she prepared when the grandkids visited. She said we acted like little monkeys when she made it. Grandma died last week three days short of her 102nd birthday. Oh, the things she saw and experienced from 1908 to 2010.

Money Bread

  • 1 package frozen dinner rolls, 18-20
  • 1 3-ounce package butterscotch pudding mix, not instant
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

The night before serving place dinner rolls in a well greased Bundt pan. Sprinkle the dry pudding mix over the rolls. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the pudding mix. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the brown sugar. Pour the melted butter over all the ingredients. Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap and let sit on the counter overnight or 8-10 hours. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and bake for 30 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes and turn onto a serving dish. To serve, pull apart with a fork.

763 7th Avenue,
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

(907) 451-6649
Toll Free 1-888-451-6649
Fax (907) 474-8448
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