Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
A telephone booth, one of two in Tenakee Springs, awaits callers near the recreational boat harbor at the edge of town.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire A telephone booth, one of two in Tenakee Springs, awaits callers near the recreational boat harbor at the edge of town.

Trivial Tenakee tidbits

Random bits of weirdness from a town with two phone booths and no bathhouse committee applicants

TENAKEE SPRINGS — New York City removed its last phone booth in May, but if Superman needs a place to change in a country where the once-ubiquitous stalls are nearly extinct there are two still functioning in Tenakee Springs — one in the center of town, the other on the outskirts near the recreational boat harbor.

Even better, neither are public payphones (also an endangered species in any form) since anyone can make calls for free. The drawback is the generosity is limited to local calls and, while long-distance calls can be made with specific calling cards, they’re not always in stock.

“I couldn’t buy any,” said Judy Walters, a longtime resident who found herself in need of one this week when her phone was shut off because her bill payment got stuck at the post office which was closed for more than a week.

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From the minutes of the Sept. 23, 2021, city council meeting: “There are no applicants to the Meter Reader position…There are no applicants to the Construction Project Manager position…There are no applicants for the Library Board or the Bathhouse Committee…”

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Visitors are advised the bathhouse in the center of Tenakee fed by its namesake hot springs is still where a large percentage of locals bathe (and thus tourists should as well since guest accommodations can be lacking showers and/or hot water). Also, an ancient outhouse on a pier extending out from the fire station is advertised as the lone public bathroom. But it turns out people venturing into the now self-serve New Moon Cafe will find a “public bathroom” with a shower (along with drinkable filtered tap water in the kitchen, another oddity in the community where tourists are encouraged to drink well water rather than the brownish creek water that comes out of nearly all taps).

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From the minutes of the Aug. 26, 2021, city council meeting: “COUNCIL COMMENTS: (Steve) Lewis states that he’s enjoyed this meeting as it’s the first time he’s participated with the City Council while having approximately fifteen killer whales around him.”

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Jif peanut butter in any form has been a near-extinct species at Foodland IGA in Juneau recent months, due to both a recall in the Pacific Northwest and ongoing supply issues, and when a few 48-ounce jars appeared a few weeks back they were about $10 each. At the tiny Tenakee Springs Market, the only place to buy groceries in the community, they were relatively plentiful and selling for slightly more than $6.

Such pricing oddities are common to much of the selection, in part because owner Ken Merrill does his every-other-week shopping at Super Bear IGA and Costco, and keeps profit margins minimal. A price of available items included in a 20-item list from a recent comparison of Juneau’s grocery stores shows eye-popping highs and lows.

A can of Del Monte corn at $2.34, for instance, was lower than three of the four Juneau stores, a non-uncommon trend with non-perishable items. But fresh dairy and other products, which typically are flown rather than ferried in, hit the other end of the scale, such as a dozen eggs for $6.61, more than double the price of every Juneau store.

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From the minutes of the Feb. 25, 2021, city council meeting: “Mayor Kennedy states the Cemetery Vision Committee did a great job, and he was shocked at how few people responded and expressed interest in utilizing the cemetery.”

• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

An aging outhouse on the pier extending out from the fire station is supposedly the only public toilet in Tenakee Springs, but the self-serve New Moon Cafe in the center of town has not only a flush toilet, but a shower as well. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

An aging outhouse on the pier extending out from the fire station is supposedly the only public toilet in Tenakee Springs, but the self-serve New Moon Cafe in the center of town has not only a flush toilet, but a shower as well. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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