Courtney Cavinder Interview

Interviewee: Marilyn and Paul Barber

Place: Midnight Sun Baseball game

On a chilly Friday night under the pale evening sunlight, people from across America came together for a baseball game. The Fairbanks Goldpanners were playing the Lake Erie Monarchs. The teams are made up of college students from across the U.S., giving them an opportunity to play summer ball for extra practice.

After several cold innings in the shade, I chose to move myself to the sunlit bleachers. As I approached the bleachers trying to decide where to sit, my eye caught a brilliant green sweatshirt with a familiar block “S” on it. I did not expect to find a fellow Spartan so far from home. I was so excited! I introduced myself to Marilyn and Paul Barber. They had traveled all the way from Grand Junction, MI to watch their grandson, Seth Johnson, play for the Lake Erie Monarchs. Of all the days for the AGLP kids to go to a game in Alaska, they happened to go to a game with a team from Michigan.

The family had traveled to Alaska from their hometown of Gobles for the week. They had such an amazing group! Not only did Marilyn and Paul make the trek to Alaska, but so did Amy and Brian Johnson (Seth’s parent’s), Caleb (Seth’s Brother) and Cassidy (Seth’s girlfriend). Cassidy was so excited to cheer Seth on! Before long, the AGLP group was leaving, but not before I could beg the Barber’s to help me fulfill an item on the AGLP scavenger hunt. They were happy to help me get a baseball autographed.

The following day was the most exciting game of the year. It is known as the Midnight Sun Baseball Game. It is so popular that it is even televised! Because the sun stays up for so long, there are no artificial lights that are used. With rainy weather in the forecast, the game and my interview were in question. Thankfully after the Midnight Sun Run the weather cleared up and we were able to continue on to the Midnight Sun Baseball Game, and my interview! I was really looking forward to seeing the Barbers again.

My heart beams with pride every time I see a green Spartan shirt, and even more so the farther from the “mitten” I get. In the crowd I once again spotted one in the crowd. I again found Marilyn, Paul, Amy, Caleb and also a new friend named Lauren. Lauren’s husband was based at a nearby military base. She had also noticed the MSU shirts and began speaking with the Barber’s. Strangely enough she was also from Gobles. Her twin uncles had gone to school with Marilyn.

The Barbers had done some traveling in their week in Alaska. They were in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Seward and Homer. The construction between Anchorage and Fairbanks was challenging and they were not looking forward to the drive back. They ultimately decided to fly out of Fairbanks instead of making the trip back to Anchorage. Despite the road construction (where the road was literally taken down to dirt) Marilyn loved the scenic drive. “I loved the driving and the breathtaking views. I met so many nice people. I loved the hospitality” Marilyn shared.

Courtney Cavinder