Anchorage Matanuska Maid Memories
Did you know that a local high school student gave the dairy its name? And did you know that the Matanuska Maid has a name? Find out in this edition.
A Very Familiar Sight
The name and the picture of the young lady on ice skates with the fur-trimmed parka was as much a part of your life in Anchorage as Gilman’s bread or going to see a movie at the 4th Avenue Theatre.
Most of us had a carton of Matanuska Maid milk on the table at breakfast. And we all remember that the young lady on the carton was known as the Matanuska Maid.
The dairy got its start in around 1935 as a cooperative created by the colonists who put together the town of Palmer, Alaska.
In its first year, the co-op sold 5,458 pounds of butter and 26,000 eggs.
By the 1940s, they were producing more than $1 million dollars in annual sales.
A 1935 Colony Farm
The photo above shows the Raymond Rebarchek farm in 1935.
Hey, we need a Name!
Pictured above is Dorothy Ann Sheely Bush in 1993, she was the school girl who won the dairy naming contest. Also pictured is her mom Charlotte Sheely with Dorothy in 1935.
The Matanuska colony decided in 1935, that the dairy cooperative should have a name.
A contest was held, and an interesting thing happened.
Dorothy Ann Sheely, a local high school student, came up with the chosen name. Instead of Matanuska “Made”, she came up with Matanuska “Maid”. Her prize was $25. And that was a nice sum in 1935.
In 1960, Matanuska Maid wanted a name for the young lady ice skater featured on their dairy products.
Mrs. John Secora of Anchorage came up with the name, “Anuska” which was the contest winner.
Notice that Anuska is Matanuska without the “Mat”.
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A TV Weather Girl and the Matanuska Maid
In the photo above is Phyllis Hayes.
Before Theda Comstock stood behind the KENI-TV channel 2 weather map, astonishing everyone with her ability to write backwards (it was really a camera trick), Phyllis Hayes was presenting the nightly TV weather.
But Phyllis had another fun personality.
Everyone in Anchorage, and throughout Alaska, wanted to see “Anuska”, the Matanuska Maid in person. So, the dairy chose Phyllis and some other delightful ladies, to dress up in the famous fur-trimmed outfit and meet all those eager Matanuska Maid fans at gatherings, events, and parades all over Alaska.
A Fun Memory
When Mary of Anchorage Memories was a young girl in Anchorage, she used to sit at the breakfast table with her seven brothers and sisters. As they enjoyed their hot or cold cereal, they would read what was on the Matanuska Maid milk carton and scrape off the wax with their thumbnail. Then they would rotate the carton, scrape wax from the other side, then the other, then… well, you get the picture.
Did you like to read cereal boxes and milk cartons at breakfast? Do you still read them?
Like so many things we remember in Anchorage, the 4th Avenue Theatre, Gilman’s Bakery and even KTVA channel 11, Anchorage’s first TV station, they are all gone now.
And Anuska, our favorite Matanuska Maid, has hung up her ice skates for good. Our favorite dairy that began in 1935, has delivered its last quart of milk.
For our purposes here at the Anchorage Memories VIP Club, it doesn’t matter why it’s gone, only that we still have the memories.
For so many years, like Gilman’s bread, the 4th Avenue Theatre or KTVA channel 11, Matanuska Maid was ours… and we loved it.
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From Our North Stars (that’s you)
“Do you know about the work which was done (research) for the silk-screened ceramic signs that were to be used in the (Anchorage) “tourist walk”? An incredible amount of historical research (went into the project) which included Anchorage Pioneers, homes, etc. The “tourist walk” was to be a part of the renovation of 4th Avenue, parts of 2nd Avenue, and down into Ship Creek.
I was a part of the design team for physical renovation of 4th Ave, E and F and C Streets as well as several portions of Anchorage.”
From our look at Anchorage Pioneer Oscar Anderson. We wrote about his home (the first one in Anchorage) and his Ship Creek Meat Market, which was located where Stewart’s Photo is now. And they left something in the market when they moved.
“Well done! I remember the giant butchers block in the basement of Stewart’s Photo. It was used for working on camera repair back then (late ‘60s). It probably took a miracle to get it down that old staircase! I’m guessing that it’s still there. Thanks for the great accounting of that lovely little home.”
In the photo above, do you remember Peggy’s Airport Café, just across from Merrill Field? Mary of Anchorage Memories wants you to know that her mom was one of the folks that made those delicious pies.
After writing this edition of your Anchorage Memories VIP Club, Mary and I could sure go for a slice of Peggy’s Airport Café pie and a tall, cool glass of Matanuska Maid milk. How bout you?
What are your memories of Matanuska Maid?
Do you want to share your memory? Or do you just want to say, “I liked my Matanuska Maid milk with…? It’s so easy to get in touch with us. You can reply to this email, or you can click on the following link to say hello.
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Until Next Time
Mike and Mary
Enjoyed this history. I have some Matanuska milk bottles and cartons of products from the dairy. Thanks again.
Michael and Mary Lefner
Remember this when you poured on The Matanuska Maid Milk into your bowl of Rice Krispies?
"Snap, Crackle, Pop!"