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Did you know that Hewitt's Drug Store, the Fur Rendezvous and the Anchorage Fire Department owe a lot to Thomas “Tom” Bevers?
In the photo above is the 1924 Anchorage Fire Department.
Tom Bevers is the third man to the right of the front tire.
Thomas “Tom” Bevers came to Anchorage in 1921 and quickly became involved in the development of Anchorage.
He became the town’s first paid firefighter. He was paid the sum of $155 dollars per month in the mostly volunteer fire department.
The 1924 photo above shows the Anchorage Fire Department and their fire trucks.
The Evan Jones Coal Mine Fire
In the early days, coal was used heavily in Anchorage and by the Alaska Railroad. Most of that coal came from the Evan Jones coal mine located northeast of Palmer.
In November 1922, then Fire chief J.W. Greene and Bevers were sent to fight a fire that had broken out in the Evan Jones Coal Mine.
Greene and Bevers took Anchorage’s brand new La France pumping truck to the fire.
On site, they began pumping water from a nearby lake. They sprayed as much as 1,200 gallons of water per minute into the coal mine.
The two ran the pumper for three hundred hours with only one break for maintenance. When it was over, Greene and Bevers had a world record for continuous pumping. The fire was extinguished, and the mine was reopened.
From 1927 to 1940, Tom Bevers was Fire Chief for the Anchorage Fire Department.
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The Anchorage Fur Farm Association
In Tom Bevers day, there were Fur farms all around the outskirts of Anchorage.
In 1928, Bevers helped form a group of prominent Anchorage citizens to start the Anchorage Fur Association. Headquarters for the group was at 10th Avenue and M streets.
From 1924 to 1930, the Western Alaska Fair (then in Anchorage) featured furs from the local farms.
From 1910 to 1930, fur farming was the third-largest industry in Alaska.
The Bevers - Pfeil Building
In the 1935 photo above is the building that was home to Hewitt’s Drug Store.
Tom Bevers became business partners with a man named Emil Pfeil in a number of real estate developments.
By 1934, the two had built the two-story Bevers-Pfeil building at 4th Avenue and E streets (seen above). Businesses that occupied the building included Hewitt’s, Gus George’s Shoe Making Shop, the Cheechako Tavern and Cheechako Café.
The Beginning of the Fur Rendezvous
In the 1941 photo above, the man in the middle is Tom Bevers.
The ladies are Fur Rendezvous Queen candidates. Patsy Chisolm, Vivian Fisher Chevillon, Wanda Gelles Griffin, Roberta Lee and Virginia “Ginger” Schodde.
Patsy Chisolm was selected the 1941 Fur Rendezvous Queen.
Notice that the microphone stand in the picture above, holds a KFQD radio banner.
“Anchorage’s Unofficial Greeter”
Bevers would often take visitors on a tour of Anchorage. Because of this, he was sometimes referred to as Anchorage’s Unofficial Greeter.
A Community Friend
Following his passing, and just two days later, October 6, 1944, the Anchorage Daily Times printed this eulogy:
“It is a loss for the whole community when a man in the position of Thomas S. Bevers is taken by death. Mr. Bevers was one of the strongest boosters Anchorage could have. He told of the glories of his hometown wherever he went, and he told them to each one of us while he was right here on the ground.
But one of the best measures of a man’s success is in friendships. Bevers had a circle of friends that extends far beyond the city limits of Anchorage. It is singular that a man could maintain so many friendships while he participated in events that were often controversial and heated. Anchorage has lost one of its best friends and leaders.”
Would you like to learn more about Anchorage pioneer, Tom Bevers?
Take a look at Thomas “Tom Bevers (Beavers) and discover.
Do You Know?
In this 1920s photo, you are looking at the building that still houses one of Anchorage’s best known businesses.
What well known Anchorage business is now in this downtown building?
(see the Answer below)
From Our North Stars (that’s you)
From our Portage, Alaska edition.
We ask if our readers knew the history of the town of Portage.
“Yes, I do because we are part of the history. Being former owners and residents of Portage Alaska.”
(by the way, Charlene is looking for pictures of the town of Portage)
“In November 1964 our high school basketball team traveled to Kenai for two games. None of us had been on the Seward Highway since the earthquake. There was a lot of chatter and laughter which became silent when we approached what used to be Portage. It was gone and left us speechless even after 8 months since the quake. We had lost a little town and only had memories of going there in the past. Had a few meals at the restaurant there after hooligan fishing with dad and brothers in the years before the quake.”
And lots of memories here.
“I've been searching my Anchorage memory banks this AM after opening the Anchorage Memories VIP Club. So much to recall growing up in and around Anchorage. Theaters; Empress, Denali and 4th Ave. Matinee Saturdays included special showings and Frank Feeman's variety shows, the "HiJinx". Remember “Caribou Wards”? Caribou Pete's, a department store across from the Buckaroo Club morphed via an agreement to move to Mountain View with the first escalator in Anchorage. Remember Kiddieland along the east side of Old Seward Highway south of O'Malley. It was an amusement park with a small roller coaster, bumper cars, batting cages and game booths. Three main burger men in Anchorage, Dick Sanchez – Arctic Roadrunner, George Brown, Lucky Wishbone and later Tony Knowles jumped into the mix with the Grizzly Burger near C & Northern Lights Blvd. Yes, there was also The Bun Drive-In on Northern Lights with Ron Moore's Coke show from the booth on top of the Bun. George Brown's brother had Brown's Electric near the A&W drive-in and don't forget the lion in the cage near A&W. The Nikko Garden opened by the Kimura's off Spenard Road and was an excellent dinner club. Yes, there was also the original Gwennies near the old Fire Station at Spenard Road and almost Northern Lights Blvd. Thanks for the history!”
And the Answer to our question is:
The 1920s building pictured above, was at one time a furniture store, funeral parlor and apartment. Then, in the 1950s, it became one of the best steak houses in Anchorage.
Located at 417 W. 5th Avenue, you know it better now as Club Paris.
Connect with Us
In the photo above, Mary and Mike of Anchorage Memories visit a park in southern, California.
Our featured Anchorage Pioneer, Tom Bevers, did so much more for Anchorage than we had space to mention here. He also served as the Mayor of Anchorage for a time.
Do you have a comment about this edition? You can easily reply to this email, or you can tell us about your favorite Fur Rendezvous by Contacting Us right here.
Until Next Time
Mike and Mary