Another Alaskan connection to the Barack Obama story has been reported via the Anchorage Daily News. According to the Redoubt Reporter, a weekly community newspaper serving the Kenai Peninsula from Soldotna, a current resident of Soldotna actually babysat Barack Obama for two months while living in Seattle. Full post HERE.
Summary: Mary Toutonghi, a speech pathologist currently operating a private clinic in Soldotna, was living in Seattle during the early 1960s with an 18-month daughter and a husband attending Seattle University. Barack Obama's mother was her neighbor. Toutonghi needed extra pin money, and Stanley Ann Durham needed a babysitter. Thus began the commercial relationship.
She watched Obama a few times a week, for about three hours at a time. Toutonghi doesn't remember how much Dunham paid her, but she does remember what Barack Obama was like at the time.
“I remember his being very large and very curious and very alert. I don’t remember him fussing, but that doesn’t mean anything. Saying he never fussed is like saying he’s not real. But I don’t remember any undue fussing at all,” Toutonghi said.
While Stanley Ann Dunham didn't make much of a personal impression on Toutonghi, Toutonghi does remember Dunham's unusual marriage to Barack Obama Sr. She found it curious that Ann was attending school in Seattle while Barack Sr. was attending school in Hawaii:
“It was interesting, and I don’t know why she was going to school in Seattle and he was in Hawaii at the time. She had told me at one point that because of her husband’s post in the tribe he was going to have to go back to Kenya and marry a black woman, as well. It was a whole different world, so she was accepting of that and hoping she could get back to him soon,” Toutonghi said.
This cultural dichotomy apparently foreshadowed the breakdown of Dunham's marriage. Later, Dunham moved back to Hawaii with her son and filed for divorce from Obama Sr. in 1964.
Toutonghi and her husband eventually moved to Alaska in 1977, where she became a speech pathologist. She’s retired from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and has a private clinic in Soldotna. And yes, she did vote for Obama, although she claims it had nothing to do with the fact that she babysat him. She characterized the Bush years as "eight years of hell".
Ed Note: Yes indeed, it must really be "hell" to be drawing retirement income from a school district, additional income from a private business, and to be living in a safe neighborhood in Soldotna, Alaska rather than being shoehorned into a noisy, steamy inner-city neighborhood, scrapping daily for your next meal, fighting your way past drug dealer-infested corners and being mugged regularly. Amazing how so many people who believe that George W. Bush was so "hellish" enjoyed financial prosperity during his eight-year rule. Bush was not necessarily a good president, but it was hardly "eight years of hell".
Perhaps this speech pathologist should have babysat Obama a few more months. She could have taught him how to recite the Presidential oath properly:
Update: As a precaution, President Obama re-took the oath on January 21st.
In related news, two organized Alaska groups, the Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers from Barrow, and the Colony High School Marching Band from Palmer, participated in the inauguration; the Anchorage Daily News story is HERE and KTUU's account, with video, is HERE. In addition, the Band's blog can be read HERE. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner also published a story on some other Alaskans who showed up at the inauguration.