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Bearfoot Insight Into Rural Alaska Life: Let's Lock That Door! Or Not.

Alaskans Didn't Feel The Need To Lock Their Doors, Until Very Recently

Door latch.
Door latch on a string.
Door latch.
A trap door latch.
In rural Alaska, it wasn't until recently that people even felt there was a need to lock their doors. One reason was that you knew everybody, and they knew you. Another was that you probably didn't have anything worth stealing anyway. Besides, it seemed downright rude to keep your neighbors out. They were the only people who could help you in the days (not so long ago) before helicopters were available to medically evacuate the sick.

These three door latches are all from different locations. And all equally ineffective, and only symbolic. The one with the string is from a cabin on the Richardson Highway, north of Valdez. For many years, hitchhikers, bicyclists and other wanderers just kind of ended up in that empty cabin along the road, and spent the night. They were respectfully asked to lock it up when they left, on the sign tacked to the door.

The cabin latch with the spoon was at a restaurant in Cooper Landing, south of Anchorage. And the one with the bear trap (which is disabled) is representative of a kind of comic latch that doesn't really do anything, but which seems to have sprung up in the Talkeetna area, on the Parks Highway, back in the 1970's, when Ray Genet, a McKinley mountaineer, used traps like this in a number of cabins.

Door lock.
Spoon lock on an Alaskan door in the Kenai Peninsula.

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