One Way Fare from Gold Run

One Way Fare from Gold Run

I was sprawled in a back booth in the North Star Café in Nome, Alaska, early one Saturday morning, drinking coffee and eating my habitual sweet roll, when Bill Munz stomped in from the February snow. He looked around, saw me, and headed my way. I thought this somewhat unusual, as he normally sat alone at the counter by the front window. When he stopped and sat down opposite me, though, my puzzlement turned into downright surprise.
Bill was a bush pilot who owned and operated one of Nome’s several small charter airlines. He possessed the typical outlook of his German background: taciturn, methodical, efficient, good at what he did – and very private. Bill didn’t socialize or belong to any fraternal organization, and he didn’t shmooze with the bar crowd. He was polite in a somewhat reserved way, and he hardly spoke an unnecessary word except where business was involved.
He smiled – a wry, half-twist of his mouth, half-hidden under a graying mustache, and asked, “Got any plans this morning?”
“Uh – no…”
“Wanna take a spin up to Gold Run? Gotta pick up something.”
“Uh – sure.”
“C’mon.” He stood and quickly headed out the door. I paid my bill and hurried after, climbing into his Jeep station wagon.
The story unfolded on the way to the airstrip. An old hermit lived in solitude in Gold Run, a near-abandoned collection of gold rush and World War II era buildings on a creek of the same name around 40 miles northwest of Nome. Some weeks earlier a young Eskimo from nearby Teller, inspired by a combination of too much drink and not enough sense, had set fire one night to the old man’s cabin. The hermit was forced out into the sub-zero temperature, taking refuge in an unheated shack where he froze to death. The law had finally caught up with the Eskimo, and now it was Bill’s job to transport the old man to Nome. He needed help.

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About the Author

Arthur Sandstrom

Arthur SandstromBorn in rural Poulsbo, Washington and raised by his grandparents, Arthur C. Sandstrom reflects much of his Norwegian heritage and old-fashioned upbringing. He was educated by the same teachers who taught his mother, ran movies at the local theater, worked several times at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in nearby Bremerton, and spent five years in the local National Guard unit. Arthur joined the U.S. Army’s Alaska Communication System in 1955 and spent ten continuous years in Nome, interrupted only by in-place transfer to the U.S. Air Force. He developed a deep and abiding interest in the Inuit culture and experienced much of its customs and way of life while in Alaska. After leaving Nome, Arthur transitioned to the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations and spent time in Texas, Washington, DC, and Germany. Retiring after 21 years, he worked for the CIA in communications then became a special agent with the Department of Defense. He finally formally retired and has done special investigating for various Federal agencies. Arthur enjoys writing stories, amateur radio, metal detecting, classical music, and meeting interesting people.

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